Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine Live Review from Reverb in Reading PA 9/9/12

September 9, 2012

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine bring the Dead Kennedys full circle. I had the benefit of seeing the Dead Kennedys play a huge show at Rutgers Camden with  Articles of Faith, COC, FOD and Decontrol as well as a way oversold hall show at West Catty Playground Building with Rest In Pieces, Life Sentence and the Clap.

I had the privilege of being at this Jello Biafra and G.S. of M. show with two gentlemen who were involved in setting up and working the door at the mighty Dead Kennedys show at the West Catty playground building back in 1985. This is a picture of the two Johns.

The Two Johns

So, needless to say, I had no interest in seeing the Dead Kennedys again. Ready to move forward (but I still would like to hear a couple of DK songs to reminisce). I have yet to see the Dead Kennedys with any of their later singers.

Jello and G.S. of M. photo by Frank FOE

The G. S. of M. band that backed Jello at the Reverb in Reading PA on Sunday September 9, 2012 blew me away, just like their 2009 LP entitled “The Audacity of Hype” does.  I believe the lineup includes Andrew Weiss (Rollins Band, Ween, Butthole Surfers) on bass and Ralph Spight (Victims Family) on guitar. The upcoming album will have Spight (guitar), Kimo Ball (another guitar), Andrew Weiss (bass) plus new drummer Paul Della Pelle (from Philadelphia HC legends Ruin & Helios Creed). Wherever Jello found these guys and the rest of the lineup and special guests (and hardest working roadie in rock n roll), they rule.

Jello and G.S. of M. photo by Frank FOE

The G.S. of M. is very early Dead Kennedysish. The trademark spooky surf guitar sound cements the Dead Kennedys influence, with a hardcore tenacity and speed enveloping the sound and throwing it into a chaotic, energetic frenzy. The exceptional musicianship of the G.S. of M. paints an aural landscape behind Jello’s vocals that can be tense and provide for a perfect release.

Jello and G.S. of M. photo by Frank FOE

The G.S. of M. played three Dead Kennedys tunes. “Nazi Punks”, “Holiday in Cambodia” and “California Uber Alles” complete with updated lyrics. All were well received, but did not necessarily overshadow the bands new, original material.

Jello and G.S. of M. photo by Frank FOE

For the most part, Jello’s speeches between songs were tolerable and did not seem out of place. I enjoyed his intro to “Nazi Punks”, which you can see below in Steve Topp’s video from the show in Reading.

"Nazi Punks F$^@ Off" video by Steve Topp

I enjoyed the fact that Jello did some research on Reading PA and the depressed economy and the culture around Reading PA and worked it into one of the G.S. of M. songs.

There was a rather upset young lady screaming at Jello during his introduction to the encore song “Shock You Py”.  From Alternative Tentacles website, Biafra explains: "Better late than never, here's our tribute inspired by the Occupy movement. Not just 'occupy' - SHOCK-YOU-PY! - since my favorite kind of resistance can have theater, pranks and other creative sabotage - non-violent, of course!"

Jello surfing - photo by Steve Topp

Which reminds me, I also was glad to hear Jello give a shout out to Pussy Riot, the Russian band that has been jailed for that “theater, pranks and other creative sabotage” Jello speaks of.

But I digress, back to the young lady who was shouting some obvious critical words towards Jello during his orchestrated speech before “Shock You Py”. I half expected Jello to stop the band from jamming their intro and interrupt his discussion to have a debate with this woman, but he kept on going and I could not hear what she was saying… so I tracked her down after the show and had a very nice conversation with her about the whole occupy thing and her views on Jello and how I conduct myself in punk rock.

I think one of the things I took away from this show was that communication and actually listening is important if our world is going to progress as a whole and if we are going to progress as individuals. I have never liked politics but I have always felt like you need to improve yourself and that is one of the most important political statements you can make.

Sit down and talk to people. You can disagree on topics, you can debate, but I have found that listening to people and hearing their views can be enlightening or at least give you an insight as to how they came to their conclusions.

It is too bad Jello and this young lady didn’t get a chance to have it out. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. But she was very matter of fact on her opinion of Jello and his relation to the occupy movement.

Jello and G.S. of M. photo by Frank FOE

Another person I spent about a half hour talking to after the show was Matt. I couldn’t let a chance to meet this 21 year old pass me by. He let me take his picture and then I had Mr. Generic take my photo with him. Old Man Generic isn’t so good with technology so that photo is out of focus even though it was on auto focus…

Matt photo by Frank FOE
Frank FOE & Matt photo by Johnny Generic

Anyway, very cool kid, who just happens to have facial tattoos and silicone implants in his skull.  I asked him what motivated him and in a well-spoken manner he honestly stated he was treated like a monster growing up and at a point in his life decided he was going to become a monster.

Damn Dirty Apes & Jello Biafra 

I ended up missing most of the opening bands including my friends Damn Dirty Apes. I did manage to score a 2XL green Damn Dirty Apes t-shirt though!

The one opening band that I did get to see was Night Birds. Wow! I was getting situated and heard their sound and I immediately was drawn to the front. The Night Birds were like the Pied Piper of Hamelin and I was like a child following them out of town never to return.

Like Jello Biafra and the G.S. of M., the Night Birds have a hardcore style rooted in the surf guitar sound. 

Night Birds photo by Frank FOE

Where Jello’s band is technically proficient in creating music that breeds energy, chaos and purpose, Night Birds throw caution to the wind. Riotous, risky and careless, I knew these guys had to be from New Jersey. Their musical and fashion sense screams AOD and Pleased Youth. Their musical influence screams Agent Orange meets Jay Reatard.

Night Birds photo by Frank FOE

I chatted up the guys after their set at their merch table and bought their two LPS “The Other Side of Darkness” and “Fresh Kills Volume 1” ( a compilation of out of print 7”s) Grave Mistake Records.  

Night Birds photo by Frank FOE

What a great night, made by great bands, great people. Thank you to everyone I met and talked to at this show. Great to see big Tom without a parachute open in the pit (El Destructo, Pleasure and Pain etc…), Mark and Chuck Edge.  I owe a big thank you to Frank Phobia of Reverb. I hope you can continue to bring great music to Reading!

Take care,
Frank FOE!/UpToNoGoodRadio

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