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Our friend V. Vale, the founder of RE/Search Publications, wrote a fantastic and detailed recap of both Biafra Five-O shows. He's letting us repost it here, but we highly recommend that you head over to the RE/Search site and sign up for his always informative RE/Search e-mail updates.
V. Vale on BIAFRA'S 50th BIrthday Party, Mon-Tue June 16-17, 2008, Great American Music Hall
June 17, 2008 - JELLO BIAFRA'S 50th BIRTHDAY (Okay, so he must have been born in 1958).
Woke up after seeing the Biafra Five-Oh spectacular (JELLO Biafra's 50th birthday celebration) at Great American Music Hall, a work of interior art so beautiful as to now appear "steam punk" in all its art nouveau detail. We got in early and grabbed seats at the stage right balcony right next to the 2nd huge support pillar - perfect visibility for all the musicians -- especially the drummer(s). Funny, we share two interns with Alternative Tentacles now (Jared Power and Emily) and Jared displayed our Search & Destroy Vol Two, Punk 77 and Louder Faster Shorter DVDs on the Alternative Tentacles merch table. I noticed that Biafra Five-Oh t-shirts were on sale for only $10, plus the whole hard-to-find catalog of A.T. CDS, etc. Funnily enough, there was also a petition urging San Francisco voters to approve renaming San Francisco's sewer processing facility the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant."
Went out on the main floor to talk to Meghan, Rick Prelinger's (google him/them) wife, and was hailed by Mickey Creep, who now sports a shaven head instead of black curly hair. He was wearing a t-shirt. I hadn't seen Mickey "Creep" for years. He told me he still got my monthly RE/Search newsletter, and especially enjoyed the "personal" stuff -- what I read, did, etc. There's a "lesson" there, I suppose, having to do with the rise of biographies/confessionals and neologisms such as "memoirist," "diarist," etc.
Around 1980 he had started "Creep" magazine (editors: "Mickey and Deirdre Creep"), and had once lived with Jello Biafra. Mickey had become a radical lawyer years ago -- lived in Auburn (the home of Clark Ashton Smith, one of America's greatest imaginative fiction writers) and a few years ago moved to Sacramento with his wife and two kids. He told me that he still has quite an archive of early "Punk" material -- zines, posters, records, including a complete set of SEARCH & DESTROY tabloids -- and deplored the seeming death (now occurring) of independent tangible media (books, records, videos): "There's a lot fewer bookstores now, especially used book stores. I read about 3 books a week -- that's 150 a year, and in 40 years that's only 6,000 books. But think of all the books that have been written." I told him that last year alone almost 450,000 new titles had been printed just in America -- how can anyone read them all, and how can they all be "good"?
Well, if in your entire lifetime you can only read 6,000 books, they had better be "good" if not "the greatest" -- full of "eternal truths" and "lasting inspiration." Which ones are they? The ones that urge you to pay attention to your dreams, to chance, to "do what thou wilt" without distraction and faltering, to cultivate your imagination, to nurture your obsessions, to think dialectically, to always extract what is the "justice" of a given social situation, to always be questioning the idea of "freedom" (with "responsibility"), et al. Using all these quote marks reminds me of where I learned not to be afraid to liberally use quote marks -- which quickly function as a "distancing device" reminding you that you don't really know what words like "Copenhagen" mean, even if you've actually been there. Guess where? From Babs Gonzalez's great, classic book, "i, paid my dues." His revisionism of the English language toward the goals of clarity, reflection and meditation, are both anti-authoritarian and definitely humorous.
But on to the show. First were the 1983 incarnation of The Melvins as a power trio (original bassist, drummer) -- they played only 20 minutes, but were "great" -- a bit of a shock when they left the stage so early, but I realized "they" would be playing later on, with Biafra. (Actually, a different incarnation played; guitarist Buzz Osborne was the constant. Later met him backstage; he said he had the RE/Search #4/5 on Burroughs; Incredibly Strange Films; and the RE/Search PRANKS book.)
Next were LOS OLVIDADOS, who began circa 1982. Immediately I was impressed by drummer Matt Etheridge's compelling rhythms and "beats" -- which of course must have been augmented by bassist Ray Stevens II -- drums and bass always provide an interactive foundation for a song. At first I thought the leader singer was Joey Shi-head of D.O.A., but his name is Mike Voss and he has stage presence equal to Joey S. As he wore a white shirt hanging out and tie, he "stood out" on the dark stage. The shaven-headed guitarist, Mike Fox, nimbly jumped around while savagely attacking his guitar and occasionally drinking almost a full bottle of beer, toasting the audience. The set was over all too soon. My overall impression was: again, great rhythms/beats. Good lyrics. So to sum up: the lead vocalist is a genuine character, and the band is outstanding -- the kind of musicians who make playing instruments while jumping all around look effortless, easy, liquid-smooth. Their short set left you wanting more, which is a highly desirable reaction... It turned out that Alternative Tentacles has released a CD of LOS OLVIDADOS -- it sounds great and my only regret is that it doesn't have lyrics, as I like to "sing along" when I listen. And these are original recordings from 1981-1983, equal to or reminiscent of the Dead Boys or Heartbreakers, and some songs are evocative of the best of Iggy Pop.
Next up was DRUNK INJUNS -- part of their personnel overlapped with LOS OLVIDADOS. The 10-year-old son of Mofo (Los Olivados founding member, not on their A.T. CD; and Thrasher magazine founder) came onstage in a Mohawk mask and throughout the set shook two maracas. The other five members also wore great masks. Their set began with a tape of "Indian war chants"... then the rest of the band joined in ... again, just "great" songs and beats. Wearing ceremonial masks gives a lot of freedom to express yourself and also, like the Residents, you could have a career until you're 90 years old and nobody would know it. And when you started "getting up there in years," you could just hire younger people to "be" you... I noticed Mofo onstage videotaping a song with one of those handy new Flip Mino videocameras -- records one hour on a built-in solid state drive, and includes a USB plug which slides out of the thin case and plugs right into the USB outlet of a computer, simultaneously downloading video and recharging the battery at the same time. Under $200. (I would like one!)
Then JELLO BIAFRA came onstage with his new band, the AXIS OF MERRY EVILDOERS. Don't want to jinx matters, but maybe for the first time in some 20 years Biafra may have a REAL BAND, able to quickly come up with seven new songs and arrangements, with everybody having enough "space" to express themselves with freedom while preserving a kind of "group unity." Great musicians: Victims Family's Ralph Spight on guitar, Faith No More's Billy Gould on bass, and Sharkbait's Jon Weiss on drums. Really, the whole set was quite mesmerizing. And with the Melvins the songs "Holiday in Cambodia" and "California Uber Alles" seemed even better than the original recordings.
Some people (who paid for both nights) got a special giveaway: a 7-inch of Biafra and members of Zen Guerilla covering Rev. Horton Heat's "Speed Demon" and Frankie Laine's "Jezebel." The second night beautiful large silk-screened posters arrived and were selling quickly (maybe they're still available from http://www.alternativetentacles.com ?). Also second night, MATT GONZALEZ appeared to introduce Jello Biafra -- and his appearance reminded us to check out all the YouTube videos showing Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez. Those two will bring some genuine integrity to the Obama vs. McCain presidential race, showing us again how lack of information (as well as too much information) are the chief enemies of informed decision-making. Oh, did you not know that Ralph Nader was running for President with Matt Gonzalez as his Vice-President? Check out those YouTube videos...
Monday night Biafra appeared onstage dressed in a long crazy-patterned coat, cowboy hat, a long crazy-patterned shirt underneath, and a black T-shirt that may have said "The Meek Shall Inherit S--t." Tuesday night Biafra appeared in a beautifully tailored "pimp suit" with "pimp hat" which he "bought in Philadelphia, although there is a pimp clothes store on Market St near 7th St in San Francisco." Both nights, near the end of the show he bravely stripped down to no shirt -- not many fifty-to-sixty-year-olds would dare to do that.
BIAFRA's "AXIS" set almost seamlessly morphed into Biafra's "MELVINS" set, with seemingly less than a minute for the changeover. For an hour the audience was swept along on a tide of one compelling song after another. There were some great beats and rhythms and guitar work. In the balcony, it was difficult to decipher the lyrics, so -- can't quote song titles. There was at least one genuine "hit" amongst the new songs. Second night Biafra was possibly inspired by an over-the-top performance by TRICLOPS!' lead vocalist Johnny who was in the audience 50% of the set. So, Biafra was also in the audience, being passed overhead while singing. As our intern Emily put it, "Biafra outdoes many performers in their twenties."
TRICLOPS! did an intense set of progressive jazz / punk rock fusion music centered around the machine-gun-rhythms of drummer Phil, who (for good reason) performed in his boxer shorts. Vocalist Johnny performed with two bright flashlights, illuminating both the audience and sometimes his face -- very strange, low-tech but arresting special effect. TRICLOPS! is Johnny (vocals), Phil (drums), Christian Beaulieu (guitar), Larry Boothroyd (bass).
Another Alternative Tentacles band, AKIMBO, sported matching big frizzy hair -- a power trio performing a short but powerful set of very intense, complicated-punk arrangements. Lots of head shaking on the part of the drummer and guitarist -- fun to watch. Personnel are: Jon Weisnewski - Bass, Vocals, GameBoy; Nat Damm - Drums, PBR; Aaron Walters - Guitar, Vocabulary (from their MySpace page). There's a very detailed, fun blog detailing the Biafra Five-Oh show (and the band's contextual tour) on their MySpace page, written by Jon W.
Seeing Biafra deliver a set easily as exciting as any '70s Dead Kennedys show was a kind of affirmation, especially in the context of that despicable lawsuit Ray/Klaus/Darren filed against Biafra; as someone put it Monday night, "Biafra won!" What indeed have those other three "Fake Kennedys" done that's as blisteringly creative as Biafra's new songs? If those three are so original, where are their new songs??! Biafra and Iggy Pop are role models for all "rebels" who reject the "live fast / die young" cliche, and want to ride off into the sunset having never given up or lost a certain kind of "edge." (And never retired to the suburbs, or O.D.'d. either.) Biafra's fiftieth birthday, Iggy Pop's sixtieth -- two of the best birthday concerts the world has yet seen. You only live once, and certain experiences are beyond monetary valuation, so if you missed them... Both Biafra and Iggy symbolize a kind of triumph over adversity and the mortal human condition -- a triumph of the will, to protest against our brave new 21st century world headed, seemingly, straight toward apocalypse...
Alternative Tentacles staffers Jesse, George, Maiko, Jared, Emily, Patrick, Erica and others pulled off one of the best celebrations of this decade: BIAFRA FIVE-OH at Great American Music Hall. Funny how many of our best social events are made possible by people invisible and unknown to most of us! We think of the Andy Warhol prediction, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes," and think how now that is virtually happening in the world of MySpace, FaceBook (and other social-networking sites still to come). Maybe everybody has an interesting life, if they could only express it and we could only read it...
The House passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (293 yeas, 129 nays, and 13 not voting). This bill ensures telecom companies get immunity from legal action for their role in aiding the government's warrantless wiretapping activities. Here is a record of who voted for/against the act. Please contact your representatives to express your opposition to government's domestic spying activities as well as granting immunity to telecom companies who do not respect your privacy or your civil rights.
+ Wired.com's reporting on the House passing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008
The other poster- the Jello-as-Steve-McGarret one we used for the 5-0 shirts- was never printed due to production difficulties. The shirts with this image will be available through the site momentarily!
We teamed up with Slim Cessna's Auto Club to bring you a contest celebrating their cipherific Cipher (Virus
383) album. We posted a riddle in cipher last week. We just updated the contest page with a second riddle. Please go take a look, sleep on it, and send in your entry by June 20!
Fuck sudoku! The Cipher riddle contest is the only way you can get some great Slim Cessna's Auto Club prizes. For details, please go to http://www.alternativetentacles.com/page.php?page=cipher_contest. There are two riddles: The first one is up now, come back next Friday for the second one!! The contest runs until June 20 so you have plenty of time to solve the riddles.
Need a hint? Maybe SCAC will give you a clue if you ask them at one of their shows. Otherwise, we'll never tell...
Slim Cessna's Auto Club on tour!
05/30/2008 Europa Brooklyn, NY
05/14/08: Name a sewage treatment plant after George W. Bush!
What better way to pay tribute to Dubya than to name a waste facility after the President who flushed everything down the crapper? The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco wants to rename The Oceanside Treatment Plant "Mount Flushmore" in honor of George W. Bush. They need 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot by July, the text of which will read "Should The City And County of San Francsico Rename The Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W Bush Sewage Plant?". Click here to get involved! We at Alternative Tentacles look forward to the day we can say "Mission Accomplished" every time we flush!
05/12/08: House passes RIAA/MPAA-backed PRO-IP Act
The US House of Representatives passed HR-4279, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, a.k.a. the PRO-IP Act, backed by the RIAA and the MPAA. The PRO-IP Act proposes to create a Cabinet level position to enforce intellectual property rights, as well as expanding forfeiture penalties that would allow federal law enforcement to seize computers and other private property. Please contact your representatives to express your concern regarding the PRO-IP Act.
+ HR-4279 info on opencongress.org
For Immediate Release: May 5, 2008
Over the past thirty years D.O.A. have released 12 albums and sold one million copies during their storied career. Band Leader Joe Shithead Keithley has gone on to start his own label Sudden Death Records and, with members of D.O.A, started a side project called Band of Rebels. Keithley captured his musical history in his Canadian bestseller autobiography I, Shithead - A Life In Punk (Arsenal Pulp Press). In 2003, Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell declared December 21st to be "D.O.A. Day" in honor of the band's 25th anniversary.
Keithley has teamed up with co-conspirators bassist Randy Rampage and drummer James Hayden to come up with a ton of great new songs for a new album to be released this summer. Bob Rock has produced albums for Metallica, Pointed Sticks, Young Canadians, Motley Crue, Cranberries, The Cult and many others. Bob Rock is producing D.O.A.'s 13th full length album Northern Avenger in time for their 30th anniversary.
What did the Canadian godfather of punk rock have to say about working with Rock? "Working with Bob Rock is fucking cool," says Keithley. "D.O.A. and Bob go a long ways back to the early days of Vancouver's punk rock scene. If there ever was a guy who can record a heavy sound, it's Bob and D.O.A.'s a heavy band, so it bloody well makes sense!"
D.O.A. has always maintained an uncompromising anarchist populist political stance using the slogan "TALK - ACTION = 0". The band is known for its outspoken political opinions and has a history of performing for many causes and benefits. The band has been active on many issues, including anti-racism, anti-globalization, freedom of speech and the environment.
Thirty years later Joe Shithead Keithley and D.O.A. are still just as outspoken and continue to fuckin' rock!
Need I say more?
DOA 30th Anniversary Tour:
Tuesday May 6th, The Casbah, Hamilton, ON
Monday June 9th, Wild Bill's, Banff, AB
American, European and more Canadian tour dates will be posted soon!
BloodHag Adults Only All Ages Tour
Skarp Grind Til the Wheels Fall Off Tour
In addition to the "Lovesong for the Botfly" video we posted earlier, there are other Triclops! happenings, both virtual and reality-based (or "IRL," as the kids say). We just posted a new AT podcast episode all about Triclops!, which you can download here (it's 18 megs/19 minutes). If you're in the Bay Area, you can catch them live tomorrow at Amoeba Music in San Francisco (1855 Haight St is the address). It's a free show that starts at 6pm--why not cut outta work early for some R-n-R?
Here are all the Triclops! manifestations in the near future:
04/25/2008 Amoeba San Francisco, CA
Check out Triclops!'s new video for their song "Lovesong for the Botfly" on Out of Africa (Virus 380). It is entomologically educational and awesomely heebeegeebee-inducing. (Make sure to subscribe to the Triclops! Youtube channel for updates!)