Saturday night I met some friends down at a bar called Three Links, in Dallas, to see Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Like a lot of skaters my age, I’m a long time fan of Jello, from his work with the Dead Kennedys to his spoken word material. About 7 years ago (has it been that long? wow!) I saw Jello do his spoken word, so there was no way I was gonna miss his show with his new band.
First, a few words about the first of the opening bands, The Interrupters, a very good punk/ska band from LA. I’ll be honest, I’m not a ska fan at all. I usually think it’s dumb and hate it. But I really liked this band. They had a really good sound. As soon as I heard their first song I was happy and full of hope for the future. Seriously. You can learn more about them on the link above.
OK, on to Jello.
Jello is old, and fat, and I don’t know where he gets enough energy to do what he does, but he does, and it is pretty incredible. He was all over the stage. Classic Jello. The new material is extremely good. When you hear it, it is very clear that Jello wrote all the Dead Kennedy’s stuff. It’s the same, with a little different sound from a more talented band. Yeah – more talented. I love the Dead Kennedys music, so that’s not a put-down. But this new band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, is just a much more experienced band what still manages to deliver the energy of a bunch of young kids.
Here’s a link to the new album….JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – White People And The Damage Done. As you will see from the song titles, Jello’s songwriting is still pretty hard-hitting.
Three Links is a small-ish bar/club. Not tiny, but not huge. I would say it qualifies as “intimate”. The sound was good for all the bands. It was open to the street, so there was some nice fresh air to cool the crowd. The band came out, and after the first song Jello demanded (in a classic Biafra rant about “why are there fucking TVs on at every bar”) that all the “fucking TVs” be turned off. The bartenders complied, and the show went on!
When the second song began, the slamming up by the stage started, and the chaos grew, and it could have been 1985. There’s nothing like the surge of a slamming crowd. (Sorry, I can’t use the term “mosh”. It sounds stupid and comes from violent metalhead morons). It was good-natured yet still somewhat threatening mayhem, which Jello seemed to love, flinging water bottle out into the crowd. This continued through the whole show.
Before a lot of the songs Jello stopped to talk politics for a few seconds, usually as an appropriate intro to a song.
Jello threw a few Dead Kennedys songs into the mix. Kill The Poor, California Über Alles, Nazi Punks Fuck Off, and Holiday in Cambodia. They are, after all, his songs. They sound good, and of course the crowd went even more crazy. The new songs are great, but those old songs are formative for a lot of people – no getting around it.
As a 50-year old delinquent, it was just so great to see this at an all ages show. Young kids, old farts, skaters, punkers, nerds…all mixing it up in a club small enough to feel like things were real.
OK, time to wrap this up.
They played for very close to two hours. A very very very short break before a 4 song encore. Two hours! That is kind of rare these days, I think.
All in all, a fun time. So great!