|• June 12, 2009
||Santa Rosa, CA
|• May 25, 2008
|• May 23, 2008
|• March 9, 2006
The Anchorage Press
|• March 28, 2004
||The Malibu Inn
||Sheffield Hallam University
|• May 17, 2002
||The New Yorker
|• April 22, 2002
||Little Rock Free Press
||Little Rock, AR
|• November 23, 2001
||Ventura County Star
||Dead On The Web
||The Galaxy Theatre
||Santa Ana, CA
Dead Kennedys @ The Harmony Festival, Santa Rosa, CA
Show Date: June 12, 2009
Review By: Molly Freedenberg at NOISE
Harmony Festival: Having your CAKE and eating it too!
Like most of us, I had a hippie phase. I wore Birkenstocks. I lived on a commune ... ahem ... in an intentional community. And I frequented festivals that featured jam bands and booths full of rasta-colored beanies. Then I graduated from college.
Some of my other interests and habits from high school remain with me: punk rock, cigarettes, skater boys. But my interest in festivals like last weekend's Harmony went the way of baggy jeans, ankh necklaces, and smoking pot. That is, simply, it went away. Until now.
This year, the annual Santa Rosa event expanded its usual granola-and-glow-sticks offerings (no offense to those of you who went for Michael Franti or The Orb) to include punk bands and a skate park. Be still my 16-year-old heart ... Dead Kennedys? Thirty-year-old men in low-slung shorts who dedicate their lives to a wooden stick with four wheels? I had to go. Plus, Cake - one of my all-time favorite bands - was headlining Friday night.
Upon arrival, I was struck first by how many booths there were. I remembered these festival being part concert and part mall, but it seemed Harmony was especially heavy on the latter. Too bad I wasn't in the market for a tie-dyed halter dress, rasta-colored wallet, or new cell phone plan. Still, all the vending made for plenty of eye candy, and at least the lay-out was based more on the idea of mini villages than a simple modular street plan. There were also plenty of resources for those interested in moving their lives towards a more healthy, holistic, or eco-friendly place. I might've spent more time in the Well Being Pavilion or in the Non-Profit Zone if I hadn't been so distracted by beer. (OK, probably not.)
There were several vendors/locations worth noting, however. I was particularly surprised and impressed by the Peace in Medicine Healing Center, a traditional Moroccan-tent dedicated to education about, and (legal) consumption of, marijuana. Though I wouldn't go within six inches of the door for fear of getting a contact high, I could appreciate the lush interior -- and the importance of recasting this useful substance as something requiring an Rx, not 12 Steps. Nearby was Ray Griswold, a metal sculptor who displayed the most inventive masks and fire tools I've seen in years, including a set of wings meant to be worn while burning. (Inexplicably, he doesn't have a Website. But you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.) A booth in the Eco-Village (where experts gave lectures on fermentation and composting, and Julia Butterfly Hill spoke inside a geodesic dome), featured great deals on hemp clothing from Wildlife Works as well as gorgeous, whimsical, circus-inspired jumpsuits, corsets, and jackets from Sequoia and Gita. And near the main stage, Kucoon offered a dazzling new collection of soft, detailed, and well-tailored dresses and pants, along with gorgeously crafted feather earrings. (As for the food, beverage, and service vendors: $1 a minute for a massage is still too much, $8 for a beer is still way too much, and I don't care what flavor your oxygen is -- I'm still not going to buy air until it stops being free.)
The best part, by far, was the skate park -- a terrifying tall ramp (30 foot drop) connected to an only slightly less impressive half pipe down which lithe, athletic, and probably certifiably insane skateboarders rode, jumped, and, almost inevitably, slid on their knees. Smartly separated from the rest of the booths and stages, this area - with its black clad teenagers and rock like Rage Against the Machine piped over the P.A. - was a welcome respite from all the "health" and "harmony" everywhere else. And this, of course, also was where Dead Kennedys (back from their hiatus) played.
How were they? Well, we all know Skip Greer is no Jello Biafra, so we'll get that argument out of the way. But I was reminded again how well he can hold his own, managing to maintain the integrity of the band's ethos and sound without simply mimicking Biafra's famous voice and antics. And yes, East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride are aging. But their playing, if not their clothes or their stage presence, is still as fresh and energetic as it ever was. Judging by the crowd of enthusiastic (though a bit, well, polite) moshers, the new DK did not disappoint - particularly when they launched into a rousing version of "California Uber Alles." (Side note: Die-hard DK fans should definitely get the re-release of "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables," particularly the DVD extras featuring footage of the original line-up. Check out my 2006 review.)
As for CAKE, the final main stage performance before the festival was turned over to electronica and mayhem (otherwise known as Harmony After Dark), they were exactly as could be expected: musically flawless and emotionally antagonistic (again). I still don't understand why John McCrea feels the need to mock the very people who've made him rich and famous. If he's so angry people only know the band for hits like "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" or "Distance," then why play them? More devoted fans certainly wouldn't mind hearing less popular songs. How about "Grand Piano"? "Mr. Mastodon"? Or, if that doesn't do it for you, then why keep playing at all? I'm not ungrateful for the chance to hear such an inventive band live - but I've had just about enough of McCrea making fun of the crowd.
Still, all was worthwhile. The fairgrounds were gorgeous, especially at night. My favorite bands did a great job. The people-watching was engaging. And I managed to leave without a single stick of nag champa. All in all? A success.
Click Here to View Original Article
Dead Kennedys @ Academy 2, Manchester, UK
Show Date: May 25, 2008
Review By: Andrew Latham at Room Thirteen
Throughout the early to mid 1980s San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys were probably the best known and most influential of all the American punk bands. Extraordinary musical diversity, intelligent lyrics, incendiary live shows, not to mention their fair share of controversy all kept them firmly at the forefront of the punk scene.
So who’s in the band these days? Well (deep breath), original singer Jello Biafra is long gone, original drummer D.H Peligro left earlier this year, as did replacement singer Jeff Penalty, who himself succeeded Biafra’s replacement Brandon Cruz! Penalty was replaced by Skip and Dave Scheff took over on drums. All a bit confusing but the heart of the Dead Kennedys remains, the brilliant song writing of original guitarist East Bay Ray and the bass of Klaus Flouride (although rumour has it that Klaus is leaving later this year!).
The early stage time (8.30pm) seems to have caught a lot of punters out as the hall is only half full when they start and subsequently it takes the crowd a little while to get going. Vocalist Skip benefits from the fact that UK audiences haven’t had many opportunities to see the band in the last few years and with Biafra as the only reference point for many, he does a pretty good job. He interacts with the crowd well, remembers all the lyrics and hit’s the notes, yes I admit there is a part of me wishing it was Biafra up there but that soon passes. Early highlights come in the form of ‘Buzzbomb’ and ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’ but it’s the old classic ‘Kill the Poor’ that finally ignites the crowd. East Bay Ray may look like a sociology lecturer but his guitar playing is instantly recognisable and hugely underrated.
They only play for just over an hour tonight but manage to cram in a whole raft of classics, the majority of which have stood the test of time well, ‘ Too Drunk to Fuck’ , the excellent ‘Moon over Marin’ and the visceral fury of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ all lead up to the outstanding set closer ‘California Uber Alles’, which is just brilliant tonight and has pretty much everyone joining in on the chorus. The first encore is probably the highlight of the whole set with ‘Bleed For me’, ‘Viva Las Vegas’, and ‘Jock-O-Rama’ all leading into a superb and frenzied rendition of ‘Holiday In Cambodia’. The crowd go nuts and the band respond, rolling back the years and sounding as fresh as they ever did. They return for a second and final time to deliver a new song (which predictably the crowd use as an excuse to take a breather) followed by a storming version of ‘Chemical Warfare’.
It’s been short (all over by 9.35pm!) but brilliant and apart from those who turned up late nobody is disappointed. Whether we’ll see the band on these shores again is open to question but tonight they have certainly ensured that their legacy remains intact.
Click Here to View Original Article
Dead Kennedys @ Liquid Rooms , Edinburgh, UK
Show Date: May 23, 2008
Review By: CD Times
The Dead Kennedys are one of the biggest Punk bands to come out of the US.
Originally formed in 1978, the band released their debut single "California Uber Alles in 1979, followed by album "Fresh fruit for rotting vegetables" a few months later. The band went on to release three more albums and numerous singles, touring the world to great acclaim, finally calling it a day in 1986.
The DK's reformed in 2001 minus original vocalist Jello Biafro with Ron "Skip" Greer currently handling singing duties. As a "small child" I was fortunate enough to witness the Dead Kennedys show promoting their debut album at Edinburgh's legendary Nite Club venue so I was curious to see what the group were up to playing in the same city almost thirty years later! I imagine several of the audience had also caught the Nite Club performance as the venue was full of 30 / 40 something ex Punkers however it was great to see a strong attendance from young fans too.
Original band members East Bay Ray on guitar and Klaus Flouride on bass were joined on stage by Skip and Dave Scheff on drums.
The Band's set was pulled from all points of their career with each song devoured by the manic hot and sweaty crowd down the front as numerous men old enough to know better performed topless chicken dancing in a playful mosh pit, slipping and sliding on pints of lager previously launched in the air or dropped from the balcony above!
Stand out tracks for me were all the earlier material, including astounding versions of singles "Too drunk to fuck", "Holiday in Cambodia" and "California Uber Alles" which heralded the moshpit arrival of a fairly prim looking woman in her 40's who proceeded to jump about and punch her fists in the air with a crazy look on her face, retreating to the side of the hall on the songs completion!
There were also some great album tracks to be heard, with "Nazi punks fuck off", "MTV get off the air", "Let's lynch the landlord" and set closer "Chemical warfare" all going down a treat with audience.
Although the music on offer was aggressive there was a fairly good natured atmosphere to the evening, something that was always lacking at the violent Punk shows in Scotland first time around. Skip worked well as a charismatic frontman, slightly resembling Biafra but doing his own thing too, leading to some humorous banter between songs.
I've been asked a few times since the gig if it's worth heading along to see a show with only two original members. I'd say it's certainly merits attending as it gives you chance to hear the legendary guitar and bass riffs from several Punk classics performed live with an enthusiastic front man keeping you entertained and amused throughout, leading to an enjoyable, exciting and fun evening.
Click Here to View Original Article and Pictures of the show.
Dead Kennedys @ Chilkoot Charlie's - Anchorage, AK
Show Date: March 9, 2006
Review By: The Anchorage Press
It was a restless crowd milling around the north side of Chilkoot Charlie's on Thursday, March 9. An odd mix of twenty-somethings and old school punkers waited for the Dead Kennedys to come onstage and bring down the house. 'Koots seemed prepared for some serious moshing, with the posts around the dance floor padded and taped and bouncers standing by.
Opening act Stuntcock did their best to warm up the crowd, but those in attendance were saving their energy for the act they paid $25 to see. And when Jeff Penalty strutted out, the response was immediate and intense.
Punk icons from the late '70s until they disbanded in 1986, the Kennedys were plagued with lawsuits, internal riffs (lead singer Jello Biafra left permanently), and general unrest. It seemed that they were truly dead. But they've proven the world wrong, jumping right back into the limelight with a 2001 release of live album, Mutiny on the Bay and the re-release of the 1980 album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables in 2005.
Former fan Jeff Penalty now fronts original members Klaus Flouride, East Bay Ray, and D.H. Peligro with his powerful vocals. Pure energy emanated from Penalty - he was literally hanging from the rafters at some points. The dance floor filled with sweaty bodies flinging themselves around and screaming stage divers. People sang along to hits such as “Too Drunk to Fuck” and “Kill the Poor.”
Penalty commented several times on what “crazy motherfuckers” the moshers were. “We appreciate anybody who wants to bleed for us!” he said upon noticing a few split lips and bloody brows.
The Dead Kennedys played for a little more than an hour, and it wasn't enough. Even with two encores (one was the crowd-frenzying hit “Holiday in Cambodia”) they left fans hungry for more.
- Jody Ellis-Knapp
Kennedys @ The Rave II, Milwuakee,
Show Date: November
and photos by Phil Bonyata @ ConcertLiveWire.com
The Dead Kennedys became
one of the defining hardcore punk
bands in the 80s by marrying politics
of revolution with music that was
wrought with nihilistic abandon. Taking
it's cue from the English punk scene,
especially The Sex Pistols and The
Clash, while eschewing the somewhat
softer American punks, The Kennedys
paved a new path for protest American
style. The Kennedys formed in 1978
in San Francisco and brokeup after
the controversy of their seminal album
Frankenchrist. The album included
a poster by Swiss artist H.R. Giger's,
a glaring illustration of penises
and asses. The band and it's record
label Alternative Tentacles were prosecuted
under California anti-obscenity laws.
The ensuing court battle (in which
they were finally acquitted) took
it's toll on the band and lead singer
Jello Biafra left the band to start
a solo career. The band hobbled back
together with original members guitarist
East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride,
second drummer Darren H. Peligro and
new singer Brandon Cruz. The band
maintained much of its energy but
lost the soul it once had with Biafra.
Now 27 years after the
band formed The Kennedys still have
a lot to say. New vocalist Jeff Penalty,
at least half the age of the rest
of the band, now has the strut while
letting the venom and fire spew out
of his lyrics. The boys ripped the
veneer off of the classic from Fresh
Fruit for Rotting Vegetables - "Forward
To Death" and then buried the
hooks in "Winnbago Warrior"
and "Police Truck."
While the originals
seemed more content to settle into
middle age gracefully with little
stage antics - it was the young Penalty
that was left to keep the energy level
boiling over. Sinister sneers and
lip raising snarls helped to buoy
the somewhat comical side to his stage
prancing. Bouncing from side to side
off of imaginary walls he understood
yesterdays punk ethos. Culling the
raw energy of his revolutionary forfathers
like Iggy Pop, The Clash's Joe Strummer,
The Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten and
"Moral Majority" and "Nazi
Punks Fuck Off," all from Plastic
Surgery Disasters / In God We Trust
Inc. exploded with a choppy and beautifully
limited chord structure. Guitarist
East Bay Ray coolly led the charge
while drummer Darren H. Peligro capped
the assualt - all the while Penalty
wickedly commanded the stage - taking
some time to vault into the sweaty
and manic audience.
The night blew away in furious fashion
with powder kegs "Bleed For Me,"
"California Uber Alles,"
"Viva Las Vegas" and "Holiday
In Cambodia." Finishing off the
assualt were "Moral Majority"
and "Chemical Warfare."
Battered and bruised - the next generation
Dead Kennedys still know what it feels
like to be a punk.
Kennedys @ Academy - Bristol, UK
Show Date: April 4, 2004
Review By: Terrorizer
So, another year, another
Dead Kennedys singer, but who's complaining
when they keep scouting out talent this
damn good? In fact, after tonight's performance
I'm literally reeling at how great they
actually are nowadays--a reformed '80s
punk band just has no right to sound this
fresh and vital without their established
Even with the perennially
amazing line-up of East Bay Ray, Klaus
Fluoride and D.H. Peligro behind him (whose
instinctive grasp of dynamics verge on
the scary), new vocalist, Jeff Penalty,
still has a lot to prove, but he instantly
demonstrates himself a worthy and likable
successor to his predecessor, Brandon
Cruz, and maybe even to Jello Biafra himself.
Wisely, the band haven't recruited a mere
clone of their original frontman, but
Jeff brings a certain eccentricity not
to mention a very authentic SoCal warble
that's most endearing.
Sure, Jello wouldn't approve
of the occasional rock show cliches that
rear their heads, but any such doubts
pale in comparison to the urgent intensity
of tonight's performance. As Jeff himself
asks cockily but three songs in, "Anyone
out there still need convincing?"
Unlikely, but howzabout a brand new studio
- Ian Glasper
Kennedys @ Rescue Rooms - Nottingham,
Show Date: March 28, 2004
Review By: Plus
Whatever differences of opinion
and reasons for attending Nottingham's Rescue
Rooms today may hold, it is undeniably a moment
of history. And despite the unusually early
door time of 5pm and the 5 band line-up, it's
DEAD KENNEDYS day for one and all. DEAD KENNEDYS
2004 that is. Some 26 years since the original
band got together. And now, post Jella Biafra,
post replacement singer Brandon Cruz, they
cram in the curious, the diehards, and the
not sures to bulging capacity.
So who do make-up DK 2004? Bassist
Klaus Floride and drummer since the early
'80s Don Perligo. Biafra's departure (well
documented over and over so let's not go there)
in the '80s left a question mark over them
of course. Now they have recruited Jeff Penalty,
who naturally injects new exuberance into
DK, band and fans alike. But my, how he looks
so young in between the two guitar legends.
Curiously/sarcastically decked head to foot
in boy scouts clobber.
And it's instantly a feeding
frenzy down there. Mohawks have long since
given way to receding hair lines but tonight
the forty somethings are going to turn back
the years and enjoy this opportunity to the
max. Everyone wants to hear 'Kill the Poor',
'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' and 'Holiday in Cambodia'.
And as Klaus Floride later says, post encore,
you ask you get. It's beer sodden, it's hot,
it's pure party time. And their new hero,
though never replacing Jella, is accepted.
In and out of the swaying slamming bodies,
throwing himself off the balcony onto a carpet
of raised hands. Turned up a notch right to
the back of the venue every time, there's
a 'California Uber Alles', a 'Viva Las Vegas'
or 'Rawhide', numerous encores and unquestionably
'Too drunk to Fuck'. It's a one off. Not the
gig, but the whole DK story, and a band (with
so much history) that can deliver delirium
to so many.
Kennedys @ The Malibu Inn - Malibu, CA
Show Date: January 24, 2004
Review By: Skratch
Hey, it's me again! Have you missed
me? Grab your long board, dude, 'cause it's
time for…Dead Kennedys in Malibu.
The Malibu Inn—ever heard
of it? Neither have I. It reminds me of the
House of Blues meets Frankie Avalon. A quick
warning to all with a limp: the only parking
they have is a tiny lot which is comparable
to a Burger King bathroom. You are going to
have to park on PCH, so plan on walking a marathon.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy
far, far away, there lived a little boy who
dreamed of seeing Dead Kennedys. Okay, I am
that little boy, and I have seen them enough
times to know that they are beyond the fucking
shit. Jeff Penalty, the new lead singer, is
the best thing to happen to the band since "California
Uber Alles." Peligro is the Mozart of the
drums, Klaus is fucking insane, and East Bay
Ray is still my idol.
After running to the bathroom
to put on my Depends because I was pissing in
my pants, I made it back in time to see the
band take the stage. The crowd is going nuts,
I am going nuts, you are going nuts, all of
God's children are going fucking nuts. I had
myself quite a chuckle when one of the fine
idiots in the pit asked for a drum stick during
the first song and Jeff so eloquently announced,
"Why don't you wait 'til we finish playing?
We kind of need them." Dead Kennedys must have read my mind, because
they played all my favorites: "Too Drunk
to Fuck," "Kill the Poor," "Let's
Lynch the Landlord"—and yes, "Holiday in Cambodia." They played two encores, but I was wasted
out of my mind at that point and can't really
remember what they were. Sorry, momma, I will
try harder next time.
The whole evening was basically
a musical masterpiece, except for one band—but
hey, let's leave the past behind us and focus
on how great everything else was. The beer was
ice-cold, three of the bands before DK were
great, and, fuck, what do you think I'm going
to say? Dead Kennedys were fucking awesome.
- Ian Wilkins
Dead Kennedys 25th-Anniversary Show @ The Key Club
- Hollywood, CA
Show Date: August 19, 2003
Review By: Skratch
I arrived at the Key Club in Hollywood just as the
doors were opening. Their was a full moon out, and
the night air was about 20 degrees above being really
hot. As I walked into the club, I noticed three things:
the air conditioning, the bar, and a huge turn out
for all the bands. The place was packed even before
the first band went on.
The Dead Kennedys have recently replaced Brandon
Cruz with Jeff Penalty. He is from Philadelphia, and
in my opinion he does a better job than Cruz. Jeff
is young and brings a lot of energy with him. As far
as the rest of the band, it's still East Bay Ray,
DH Perligro, and Klaus Flouride.
The lights dim, everybody in the place is chanting
"D.K., D.K." Then, on a movie screen above
the stage, the show starts. There are images being
flashed with music similar to that from 2001: A SPACE
ODYSSEY, then silence, followed by the arrival of
one of the greatest bands on the planet Earth. It
was standing-room only by this time in the evening,
and you were lucky if you made it anywhere near the
stage. They started the show with "Police Truck,"
followed by "Too Drunk to Fuck." During
the whole show the crowd was going nuts, dancing in
the pit, singing along to every song, and (of course)
the ever-so-popular stage dives (hint to all who dive:
make sure their is someone to catch you before you
make your leap). Peligro's drums were on a raised
stage, and he was banging the hell out of them. East
Bay Ray was busy...well, being East Bay Ray. Jeff
was climbing up and then jumping off the speakers,
making sure the fans knew who he was and that he was
here to stay for awhile. About midway through the
show, D.K. stopped to let Klaus give thanks to all
who have supported them, along with a little history
of the past 25 years.
They played for a little more than an hour, then
came back and did three encores. Total D.K. time:
almost one-and-a-half hours. The show was so good that I'm really contemplating
quitting cigarettes so I can make it to their 50th-anniversary
- Ian Wilkins
Kennedys @ Sheffield Hallam University - Sheffield,
Show Date: June 21,
Review By: Unbarred
There’s one question on the lips of every punk,
neo-punk, part-time punk, lapsed punk and married-with-children
punk who’s made the pilgrimage to Sheffield
tonight for the Dead Kennedys’ first UK tour
in 20 years. How would they cope without lead singer
Since the Kennedys called it a day back in 1986,
Biafra has kept a high profile, recording under various
guises, and undertaking spoken word tours of universities
and lecture halls, where he rails against injustices,
mainly those perpetrated by the US government. The
rest of the band, guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist
Klaus Fluoride and drummer D. H. Peligro, disappeared
But after recently winning the rights to the Kennedys’
back catalogue from Biafra in a dispute over royalty
payments (a decision Biafra is planning to appeal
against), they’ve decided to get back on the
road with new singer Brandon Cruz.
Who could imagine the Pistols without Rotten, the
Clash without Strummer, the Exploited without Wattie
Burps? So, no pressure then, Mr Cruz.
The initial signs aren’t good. The band amble
on stage and launch into a couple of obscure album
tracks with no real conviction. It’s all a bit
tentative to say the least.
But they’re just playing with us. Next thing
you know, Ray’s belting out the killer riff
of ‘Police Truck’, one of the Kennedys’
absolute classics (and only a B-side in its day) and
the gig really begins.
‘Police Truck’ gets a rousing response,
and from here on the band barely put a foot wrong,
wisely sticking to material from classic early singles
and the first three Kennedys’ albums.
All the favourites you never heard on the radio are
here: ‘California Uber Alles’, ‘Kill
The Poor’, ‘Moon Over Marin’, ‘Buzzbomb’,
and of course the legendary, ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’,
a top 40 hit back in 1981.
Before long it becomes apparent that any doubts the
audience might have had about the Biafra-less line-up
have vanished; they’re too busy throwing themselves
around with gleeful abandon.
It works because the Kennedys’ are obviously
enjoying every minute of their revival. East Bay Ray’s
guitar playing is thoroughly distinctive and so many
of his riffs are instantly memorable. Klaus Flouride
may look more like Harold from Neighbours than a threat
to society these days, but his bass playing is still
awesome and he bounces around like a teenager.
Brandon Cruz, for his part, sensibly avoids any Biafra-style
proselytising, and merely gets on with belting out
the songs and throwing himself about the stage.
D. H. Peligro, who hasn’t aged a day in 20
years, makes the evening’s most serious address,
about the improvements made in race relations since
the 80s and the long way to go. Cue another classic,
‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’.
And just when you think it can’t get any better,
the Kennedys pull out the ace in their pack. ‘Holiday
In Cambodia’, one of the best punk songs ever,
surely, still sounds as frightening today as it did
in 1980. Apparently Levi’s wanted to use it
in a jeans commercial, but were given the same advice
as Nazi punks.
Encore favourites ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Viva
Las Vegas’ are duly despatched, and the night
finishes with a blistering version of a lesser known
Kennedys hit ‘Bleed For Me’.
Afterwards the band emerge from backstage to chat
to fans, and it’s good to see Cruz, who has
had a tough time from some quarters, accepted by the
When Jello Biafra came to Sheffield last year for
a spoken word gig, he gave his version of events surrounding
his dispute with his former band mates. The Kennedys
could have used this occasion to even things up, but
they didn’t; they just got on with it. And how.
- Guy Harrington
Kennedys @ L'Amour - Brooklyn, NY
Show Date: May 17,
Review By: The New Yorker
NOT DEAD YET DEPT. - A PUNK REUNION
It has been twenty-three years since the Dead Kennedys
released their first single, "California Über
Alles" (which envisioned President Jerry Brown
flanked by "the suede-denim secret police"),
and since their singer, Jello Biafra, ran for mayor
of San Francisco (his platform called for all downtown
executives to wear clown suits during business hours)
and came in fourth. And it has been sixteen years
since the band broke up, after playing what was supposed
to be its final show, in Davis, California. "We
all agreed not to carry it on, but the thing about
punk rock is, it's against having a set of rules,
and here we are," East Bay Ray, the band's guitarist,
said. This was the other night at L'Amour, a club
in Brooklyn, where the DKs, touring for the first
time since 1986, were about to play a midnight show.
Their re- union is incomplete, however, as Jello has
been estranged from the group since 1998, when Ray
and the others-the bassist, Klaus Fluoride, and the
drummer, D. H. Peligro-sued him for unpaid royalties
and for the rights to license their music. (Biafra
has accused them of wanting to let Levi's use the
song "Holiday in Cambodia" in an ad. The
band denies it.) In Jello's place, they have hired
Brandon Cruz, who's on loan from a band called Dr.
"My involvement is controversial, obviously,"
Brandon said, drinking a water in an unfinished broom
closet that was being used as the greenroom. "Now
Jello is suing Dead Kennedys, accusing me of impersonating
him and emulating his stage act. I've had death threats
from fans. I've been called a scab and a trust-fund
baby-because of my background, I guess." When
Brandon was six years old, he began playing Eddie
in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," a
sitcom that ran on ABC in the early nineteen-seventies
and starred Bill Bixby as a widowed father. "Bixby
was an amazing man," Brandon said. "In 1981,
I did a Dick Clark special called 'Whatever Became
of . . . ?,' and I showed up with green hair and he
hugged me. He said, 'Are you on drugs?' and I said,
'No.' So I lied to Bill Bixby, but it was O.K."
Brandon, who has small eyes, tight skin, and short
platinum hair, wanted to make it clear that, despite
stories about Jello living in a large Victorian house
in San Francisco while the rest of the DKs were going
broke-Klaus had been driving a DHL truck-this tour
is not just about money. He said, "I didn't write
these lyrics, but I believe every fucking word of
"Surprisingly, most of the lyrics don't feel
dated, because so little has changed," said East
Bay Ray, who, like the other original members of the
band, doesn't like to give out his age or his real
name. "We took a line that goes 'When Cowboy
Ronnie comes to town,' and made it 'When Cowboy George
W. Bush comes to town,' but that's about it."
Ray disappeared and returned with a man and his daughter.
"They were waiting in the audience, and I saw
she had one of our old T-shirts," he said. "Check
out this story."
The man, whose name was David Schachter (brush cut,
chinos), said, "O.K., I work in a conservative
financial field, but imagine it's 1981 and I'm just
a kid from Queens, right? I go to Irving Plaza to
see the DKs on a Friday, and I love them so much I
have to see them again the next night. But I feel
guilty. What, go out on Saturday night and leave the
wife at home? So I stay home awhile, I give the wife
a little something to remember, and then I'm out the
door and at the show. And, exactly nine months later,
we get Lisa."
"Hey, wow," Brandon said.
"I didn't drag her to the show tonight,"
David said. "She loves your music. Tell them
what album you've been listening to all week."
Lisa (newsboy cap, artillery belt, dark eye shadow)
said, "Dead Kennedys."
"But which album," David said hopefully.
"Fresh . . . Fruit . . . ?"
"Oh, right," Lisa said. " 'Fresh Fruit
for Rotting Vegetables.' "
"Cool," Ray said.
When it was time to perform, the group tore through
the old standards-including "Police Truck,"
"Let's Lynch the Landlord," and a slightly
altered cover of "Viva Las Vegas" ("Lady
Luck's with me, the dice stay hot/Got coke up my nose
to dry away the snot"). Brandon kept rhythm by
pounding his forehead with his microphone, drawing
blood. When he introduced the number "Too Drunk
to Fuck," he said, "Beer can do a lot of
good things for you. But this song is about how bad
things can happen to you, too." They finished
the set with "Holiday in Cambodia," their
best-known song, a satire of bourgeois slumming. The
audience chanted along with the coda: "Pol Pot,
Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot."
Afterward, the Dead Kennedys headed out into the
rain. Brandon put on a jean jacket with the sleeves
cut off and used a paper towel to dab at his forehead,
which was still bleeding. "One guy just told
me, 'You're not Jello, but you're pretty good,' "
he said. "That's O.K."
- Eric Konigsberg
Kennedys @ Saratoga Winners - Albany, NY
Show Date: May 15,
Review By: Metroland
NOT EDDIE’S FATHER’S
The Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra? You might
wonder, wouldn't that be like the Sex Pistols sans
Johnny Rotten? Biafra's spastic, bile-soaked voice
is almost indescribably repugnant, even more repellent
than his sarcastic, contemptuous lyrics. It's like
the voice of Satan in a very low-budget 1960s horror
flick. Simply put, it's a big part of what makes him
compelling. Yet, the Dead Kennedys have hardly missed
a beat after leaving their litigious former front
man behind (Biafra sued, unsuccessfully, to prevent
the group's reunion).
To finish the Sex Pistols analogy, while the musically
shaky Pistols were unimaginable without Johnny Rotten
(who was, after all, truly one of the greatest rock
singers) the Dead Kennedys are such ferocious players
that they get along without Biafra very well. Thunderous
drummer D.H. Peligro, bassist Klaus Flouride and surf
'n' snarl guitarist East Bay Ray didn't seem to have
lost much, either in their musicianship or commitment.
No one was just cashing a check.
To be sure, Biafra's replacement, Brandon Cruz (of
punk band Dr. Know, and TV's The Courtship of Eddie's
Father), is nowhere near as fearsome. But, whether
hanging from the rafters, stage diving into the seething
pit, or singing the songs that made the DKs infamous,
Cruz gave a performance that ranged from respectable
That said, it's a peculiar thing when a punk show
doubles as an oldies show. Snoop Doggy Dogg's words
from the stage on his last tour came to mind: "Put
your middle finger in the air, and let's go down memory
lane." Still, the Dead Kennedys' songbook holds
up very well: "Kill the Poor," "Too
Drunk to Fuck," "California Über Alles"
and covers of "Rawhide" and "Viva Las
Vegas." Given the fact that we have another Bush
in the White House, and that right-wing rhetoric is
again in fashion, the political songs of the Reagan
'80s are timely again. The mostly very young audience,
who weren't even a gleam in their parents' eyes when
"Holiday in Cambodia" discomfited the rock
mainstream, loved the band.
Opening act the six-piece River City Rebels frantic
combination of punk and ska, showcasing trombone and
tenor sax players right there in the mix with the
guitars, put folks in the mood to dive and surf. The
Rebels came on like working-class heroes with an aggressive
stage attitude that was just what people were waiting
Local heroes Nogoodnix opened the festivities with
their growling, hook-filled, Irish-inflected punk.
They were very happy to be there, and their joy was
shared by the crowd.
- Shawn Stone
Kennedys @ Jaunita's - Little Rock, AR
Show Date: April 22,
Review By: Little Rock Free Press
DKs 4 LIFE
Last night, April 22nd, 2002, I witnessed the most
amazing punk band that has ever sprung from American
soil. The Dead Kennedys of course! We all argued in
the Spa City [Hot Springs, AR] about this show. I
knew it would be a good show, but no one else thought
it would be. So no one showed up except me and Harp.
We stepped foot in that club wearing the uniforms
we made to demonstrate that we still stand for what
they did back in the Jello days. We went upstairs
to the Free Press office to get our word out on Drama
Records and this punk scene so we could do something
for this scene. They seemed interested and will be
contacting us soon.
We went back downstairs and kicked it in the back
of the club as East Bay Ray walked up to us looking
at the button up shirts we were wearing, laughed and
shook our hands like a true punk would. He didn’t
reject that we hadn’t conformed to the modern
day punk with piercings and liberty spikes wearing
vandals shirts. We were creative and got respect for
it from one of the most important men in punk music,
ever! That is awesome to me.
I kicked it with D.H. Peligro at the pool table just
talking about bands in Arkansas and my respect for
DK. He was a gentle soul and very cool to hang out
with. He got our email addresses so we could contact
each other possibly to get DK or Dr. Know to play
Hot Springs next year. He dug the shirts as well.
After that he told me he had five minutes to be onstage
and invited me along with some other people and cats
to the after party. That’s when Brandon Cruz
(Dr. Know) greeted me and told me he would like to
play in Hot Springs sometime soon. He and I spoke
of Jello. He said there was no need to talk crap on
Jello because you have to respect the man for what
he has accomplished. That changed my whole attitude
towards the new vocalist. He didn’t think he
was better than Jello. He didn’t even try to
sound like Jello, his voice just naturally sounded
like Jello’s, which was crazy.
They walked on stage and the crowd came together
in a united pit of chants. DK! DK! DK! Then they played,
the crowd was a spaced out hardcore slam fest. Brandon
Cruz stood on the amp I was in front of and we sung
almost every song together. When they played “Nazi
Punks Fuck Off,” I totally lost myself in the
moment and got on stage three times, diving into the
crowd. It was an adrenaline rushed punk rock show
like I have never seen. The best I have ever seen.
I told Peligro this" Thanks for give me real
punk rock!" He appreciated it. Klaus wasn’t
really around all that much but he shook my hand and
talked to us about our shirts which they all signed.
You know what, Jello is doing his own thing and they’re
doing their own thing and both are doing good.
We said our good-byes and left without checking out
the drunken vixens of the after-party. All and all
the greatest punk show I will ever see in my entire
life. Now I am going to tend to these wounds from
all the rage last night.
Keep it real...DKs 4 Life
- Jimmy “The Rot” LeCompt
Kennedys @ Fitzgerald's - Houston, TX
Show Date: April 19,
Review By: Rockzone
In 1986, the political punk scene lost the band that
started it all. From the aftermath of the "Frankenchrist"
trial, the Dead Kennedys called it quits.
Now it is 16 years later and the band has returned,
minus estranged vocalist Jello Biafra, to resurrect
their classic tunes.
Founders East Bay Ray, D.H. Peligro and Klaus Flouride
return with new vocalist Brandon Cruz to spread the
strongly political messages of the band to a new generation
of fans. Despite looking a few years older, the same
energy and conviction seemed to be in place, despite
the negative words former vocalist Biafra had about
As with most reunion shows, especially those that
see original members replaces, the buzz surrounding
the show was that an atrocity was being done by having
the Dead Kennedys reform and tour. This feeling of
betrayal disappeared from all in attendance as the
band began its set, with the maniacal "Forward
An interesting aspect of the show was the attendance
of entire families, which illustrated the validity
and importance of the Dead Kennedys, not just to the
music scene, but politically and intellectually.
Cruz, living with the burden of comparisons to Biafra,
never looked back once the entire set. He exhibited
a love for the music and a willingness to get the
audience involved. Known for his between song rants,
Biafra was a voice for the disenfranchised of the
early-80s, while Cruz, also coming from the same era
with band Dr. Know, spends less time talking.
These characteristics can be seen as a positive or
negative, depending on the fan. In the end, Cruz catered
to the fan who had spend years listening to Dead Kennedys
albums and dreaming of being old enough to see the
legendary San Francisco Bay Area band, with or without
The only fault I could find with the show was the
band's inability to update the song "California
Über Alles." During the eight year life
span of the Dead Kennedys in the 80s, Biafra updated
the lyrics to attack the leadership of Ronald Reagan.
At this show, the band went with the original 1978
version of the song, which attacks the then-thought
to be future president, former California Governor
Some of the songs touched on current themes, even
the dated "Holiday In Cambodia." With the
relatively recent death of former Khmer Rouge leader,
Pol Pot, it was able to connect to the current world.
Others were frighteningly relevant to the current
state of the world, such as the police brutality based
Despite the opinions audience members held before
the show, as soon as the first note rang out, tolerance
rang through with the feeling of excitement and the
idea of seeing the band they, as well as their kids
in some cases, had always loved and learned from.
Set list: Forward to Death, Winnebago Warrior, Police
Truck, Government Flu, Let's Lynch the Landlord, Rawhide,
Kill The Poor, Insight, Too Drunk to Fuck, Buzzbomb,
Moon Over Marin, I Kill Children, Nazi Punks Fuck
Off, California Über Alles, Chemical Warfare,
Viva Las Vegas, Holiday In Cambodia
- Samuel Barker, Senior Editor
Kennedys @ The Ventura Theater - Ventura, CA
Show Date: November
Review By: Ventura County Star
Kennedys Cruz into Ventura
Well, the fatigue factor was not a factor at all
as that legendary punk band with the still-shocking
handle, Dead Kennedys, played a set of loud and fast
music Friday night at the Ventura Theatre.
The band broke up in 1986 but returned well-rested,
headlining a punk extravaganza that included the legendary
Oxnard band Agression.
Beginning with its name, Dead Kennedys was politically
incorrect, but very political, during its stormy existence.
Front man Jello Biafra wrote songs about war, racism,
the final solution to the homeless problem, Nazi punks
and being too drunk -- all screamed at a fever pitch
while the other three guys played loud and fast.
Well, those three are still playing loud and fast,
but Biafra's out and there's a new lead screamer:
former child actor Brandon Cruz. After a long and
acrimonious legal battle, the band members won and
Biafra lost, at least so far. The band was allowed
to use the name, reissue the back catalog, and even
release a new album of old stuff, "Mutiny on
the Bay." So what with a new album and with everyone
all rested up, it's time to tour.
Up on stage Friday were the three originals, Klaus
Flouride on bass, East Bay Ray on guitar and D.H.
Peligro beating those drums, and Cruz, like a crazed
bobble-head doll, prowling the stage.
The main difference with Cruz on stage was there
was none of the between-songs political commentary
that Biafra was known for. (Here was a man who ran
for mayor of San Francisco on a free beer platform
and came in third.)
Instead, Cruz emphasized the local connection; he
was one of the original punk rockers from the Oxnard
Nardcore punk scene, when he fronted Dr. Know about
two decades ago. He went on to become a former TV
kid star ("The Courtship of Eddie's Father")
but has always had a band or two on the side, so his
punk roots are as obvious as a bad green mohawk.
The mosh pit mosh started when the band did, rotating
in dizzying fashion in the usual clockwise direction,
stopping and starting depending on the song, but erupting
into a mild uproar on the familiar ones such as "Kill
The band was rocking, creating a visceral sonic assault,
making livers quiver way in the back by the bar. They
played about 15 tunes, saving their biggies for the
encore, "California Uber Alles" and "Holiday
in Cambodia," which cranked the mosh pit into
The band has played about 10 shows now with this
lineup and are off for Chile, Brazil and Panama on
a punk rock surfin' safari.
- Bill Locey, Correspondent
Kennedys @ The Galaxy Theater - Santa Ana, CA
Show Date: November
Review and Photos By: Scott Harding @ Dead
On The Web
Dead Kennedys are a band that took punk to new levels
back in the 80's with their witty lyrics and political
actions. Opening the eyes to all that witnessed them,
they helped people understand that sometimes life
isn't what they tell you it is and it's up to you
to take things in perspective and to think for yourself.
Now, unfortunately all good things must come to and
end and this rule applied to DK as they broke up around
1986 for reasons of different interests in the members
at the time. But now in 2001 most of the members decided
to get it back going and give the people what they
wanted, a DK reunion. But as you all know front man
Jello would not be part of this reunion for obvious
reasons and they would have to find a new front man
thus making their comeback a huge controversy amongst
all their fans.
When I first heard about this reunion I was extremely
excited because I have been a fan of theirs since
I canremember listening to music. Sure it might not
be the same without Jello but the way I looked at
it was bands have switched members in the past and
were still very successful. And it gave people like
me, who were too young to see them live the first
time around, the opportunity to see them live in the
flesh. I was really stoked to find out that they were
playing at The Galaxy right down the street from my
house. This gave me an opportunity not only to see
them but to also have a contest in my zine to give
others a chance to see them for free.
But that's when I really noticed the flack some people
were giving them for doing this reunion without Jello.
I received several emails asking me why I supported
this reunion and some even told me that we all should
boycott their tour to teach them some sort of lesson.
People were telling me their reasons for not wanting
the reunion like they are only in for it for the cash,
or they were disrespecting Jello, or my favorite rumor
about using Holiday in Cambodia in a Levi's commercial.
Well all I have to say to these people is this: Doing
it for the cash? I don't think they are. But what
about the whole Levi's commercial thing? Have you
seen the commercial? No. Why? Because it never happened!
And it never will. But what if they were in it for
the cash? Is there something wrong with making some
well deserved money off of the project they spent
so much time and effort creating? I mean seriously,
have you ever been in a band that helped create punk
and it's history and because of the wrong doings of
some band member you were not given credit for what
you helped create? And disrespecting Jello?!? Come
on people! I have news for you, if you do your home
work you will realize that Jello was not all fair
to the rest of the musicians that helped write the
anthems of life that some live to each and every day.
Did you ever think that maybe they are doing it for
the love of the music and for the fans that have been
dying for a reunion of this sort? I guess what I'm
trying to say is if you are not all for this DK reunion
then don't go to the shows. It's that simple. There
is no need to be going out and trying to change the
minds of the people that truly respect the band and
support them as a whole. Just let it go. It's not
going to hurt you. And believe it or not there are
people out there that do want to see this including
me. With that out of the way, on with the review!
First of all let me say that the show was sold out.
I haven't seen so many people packed in the Galaxy
in the history of me going there. The first band up
was The White Trash Debutantes. The next band up to
rock the stage was The Scabs. The Crowd have solidified
themselves as a major part of the Orange County punk
scene, and their crowd is still going strong after
decades in this fickle business.
Now it was time for the Dead Kennedys to give the
people what they have been waiting over a decade for
- a good ass kicking by some hard hitting punk rock
music! As they took the stage the eager crowd went
ape shit, including myself. It was an awesome sight
to see them there live in person. All of them standing
proud as they got ready to bitch slap their fans with
raw power and ear splitting tunes. And what better
person to choose as their front man than Dr. Know's
very own Brandon Cruz! Right before they started ripping
the stage to shreds, Brandon mentioned how singing
for the band was a dream come true for him.
I couldn't imagine how that must feel! Then they
kicked the show off with "Forward to Death"
and from then on it was utter chaos! From the first
strum of Ray's guitar to the last snap of Peligro's
snare drum, the Galaxy turned into one massive slam
pit! People throwing their bodies into each other,
people flinging themselves off stage and crowd surfers
cruising on top of people like it ain't no thing!
This is what true punk shows are all about. It was
funny to see the bouncers shitting themselves not
daring to interrupt the madness. Brandon did a great
job on singing all the classic tunes. I was not sure
how he was going to sound singing the DK songs but
I was pretty shocked on how well he did. The best
part was that he also gave the opportunity of some
lucky fans, like myself, sing parts of the songs they
played as he handed the mic to many all throughout
the show. Klaus, Ray and DH were shredding it up as
if the Dead Kennedys never stopped playing. You could
see in their faces that they were fully taking in
the moments and enjoying the show just the same if
not more than the fans out there pitting to the songs
they played. Some of the classics they played were
Dog Bite, Government Flu, Lynch the Landlord, Nazi
Punks Fuck Off, Police Truck, Moon Over Marin and
they kicked off their encore with Holiday in Cambodia.
All in all the whole night was a blast! I really do
feel sorry for the people that felt that they were
too punk to give the new Dead Kennedys a chance because
they really missed out. There is a chance that they
will be doing another US tour so keep your eyes peeled
and trust me on this, you don't want to miss out!!
CLICK HERE FOR THE SETLIST!
- Scott Harding