Seminal punk- hardcore band The Dead Kennedys last played in Oz in 1983, so it was no surprise that Billboard was packed full of fans, with “no space left for yearning”. The current line up features Ron “Skip” Greer on vocals, East Bay Ray (Raymond Pepperell) on guitar, D.H.Peligro on drums and Klaus Flouride on bass, minus original outspoken vocalist Jello Biafra, who many say was the heart and soul of the band in their heyday. Despite Biafra’s absence the mature four piece are tighter than Donald Trump’s arsehole.
Kicking off proceedings with ‘Forward Death’ the pace of the evening doesn’t abate. D H Peligro keeps rhythm with machine gun drumming, and yeah we all know Skip is no Jello, but his energetic stage antics and impassioned vocals still pack a punch, allowing the band to connect with a loyal base of followers who are stomping and writhing about; limbs flailing and jerking randomly in the mosh pit; through to the punters who have conveniently positioned themselves further away on the stairs by the bar. The set list is tempered with old chestnuts, loaded with social commentary and the band’s renowned leftist view of America in the 80’s which is sadly still relevant today. The thrashy punk gems spew out thick and fast; ‘Winnebago Warrior’, ‘Police Truck’, ‘Buzzbomb’ with ironic lyrics many blokes can relate to, “I don’t love you, I love my car”. Highlights include pearler ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’, which judging by some of the inebriated fellows in the crowd, rang true tonight, ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’, and ‘California Uber Alles’ an athemic song about California’s then fascist Governor Gerry Brown.
The ratio of male versus female fans was high, and with the potent combination of copious alcohol the dickhead factor was lower than expected, but perhaps the worst pick up line I heard on the night, was a guy who thought I’d jump at the chance to have him “snort cocaine off my tits”. Wankers aside, the Dead Kennedys rendition of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ featured in the first encore, alongside crowd pleaser ‘Holiday in Cambodia’, and then second encore of ‘Chemical Warfare’ left punters sated and entertained – kudos to the band for never losing momentum. The Dead Kennedys put on one hell of a show and did the band of old proud.
– Anna Megalogenis