D K site

Dead Kennedys: Electric Ballroom, Camden, UK 2008

Having seen the Dead Kennedys first time round at the Lyceum ballroom in 1981, I would never have imagined that 27 years later I would be seeing them again. However, in the age when everyman and his dog who has ever been in a band decides to reform it can be of no surprise then, that bands with a pedigree such as the DKs do the same. I have to attend such gigs with an open mind, times move on, politics change, as does the hairlines and the personnel. This isnít the 80s anymore, and perhaps some of the lyrics and political leanings are now obsolete. When I first heard that the DKs had reformed without motormouth Jello, I was a tad surprised and disappointed. Surely DKs without Jello is like the Pistols without Rotten, U2 without Bono, and egg without.....er chips. Anyway, tonight I found myself at the Electric Ballroom, which also doubles up as a market hall in the week, in the posey (some say trendy) Camden Town. I miss the support acts, and walk into a heaving throng of bodies, the place is rammed. The DKs have again changed the singer and I know nothing about the new guy, expect he sings in some rock band I've never heard of. He bounces on stage and throws himself straight into it. The music is the DKs sure, but....hhmmmm, he ain't no Jello. What I liked about Jello was his constant talk between songs and interaction with the crowd, he also did some bizarre theatrics. All that is missing tonight, as one song goes into the next and then into the next. The crowd is slow to respond at first, but picks up for Nazi Punks Fuck Off and Too Drunk To Fuck. There is a small crowd at the front in the moshpit, but most seem to be content just watching the band. The crowd is a mixed bunch, varying in ages and nationalities, but I expect there are a few tourists in here tonight. The singer jumps off stage and sings leaning over the barrier and the crowd, he disappears from view in a sea of sweaty heads. Give him his due, he is making an effort, but the songs don't quite sound right, as they miss the distinctive whining tone of Biafra. The guitar still sounds good, but I feel like Iím watching a glorified tribute band. There is no energy coming off the other band members and Klaus Flouride looks almost bored. They play for over an hour and play all the usual suspects but I come away feeling disillusioned that such a fine band has been reduced to plugging the massive hole left by Jello Biafra with someone who doesn't really fit the bill. Perhaps Jello Biafra's shoes are just too big to fill?

Justin Case


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