UC Theater Berkeley
December 9, 2018
Photos by Raymond Ahner.
The DEAD KENNEDYS (DK) showed up at the UC Theater loaded for bear to celebrate forty years of fucking things up. Taking aim at the usual suspects (politics, religion, and society), DK headlined a lineup that was a history lesson of raising a middle finger at the establishment, using punk rock as the platform to do so.
Never mind that this was not the version of DK that put San Francisco on the punk rock map in 1978 with incendiary performances throughout the bay area underground (including some legendary shows at The Mab), this was a throwback no-holds barred rock and roll show brimming with high energy and high volume.
Playing to a sold-out room, the current incarnation of DK – East Bay Ray (guitar), Klaus Flouride (bass), D.H. Peligro (drums) and Skip Greer (vocals) – got the party started with 90 seconds of angst and aggression in the form of ‘Forward to Death.’ The floor immediately became an out of control merry-go-round of knees and elbows.
An already electric room was then amped further with ‘Winnebago Warrior’ which doubled the size of an already formidable mosh pit. As the set progressed DK killed it over and over again with classic steamrollers like ‘Police Truck,’ ‘Too Drunk to Fuck,’ and ‘California Uber Alles,’ a political meat grinder that generated the first stage dives of the evening.
To close out the fourteen songs played in the regular set were a drunken sing-along cover of Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and the dark and dangerously sharp angles of ‘Holiday in Cambodia.’ The most well-known song in their punk rock arsenal caused bodies to slam and drinks to spill throughout the venue before DK left the stage to screams and roars from their fans (ranging in age from 11 to 70) who came to celebrate 40 years of arguably the most influential punk band this side of the Sex Pistols and Ramones.
Returning once more to the stage, Skip taunted the crowd, the city of Berkeley, and the Bay Area in general, making fun of their hippie tendencies and stating over and over that in his new hometown of Brooklyn, “…that shit wouldn’t fly”. DK then blasted out ‘Chemical Warfare’ to close down the evening. Funny as shit, as politically irreverent as ever, DK is still hitting it hard some 40 years after starting with Jello, and 32 years after ending with him.
DK was not the only reason rockers were out in force on this chilly evening. Preceding the headliner was T.S.O.L. (True Sounds of Liberty), bringing a hard-edged SoCal bent to the festivities. With a career that mirrors the longevity of DK, they drew from a deep well of punch to the jaw rock for a crowd more than willing to feed it back to them.
With singer Jack Grisham pacing the stage and belting out their abrasively political message, T.S.O.L. shook the foundation with 60 minutes of rough and ready rock, peaking on such head knockers as ‘Give Me More,’ ‘Sounds of Laughter,’ and the rally cry of anyone who was picked on in school ‘Fuck You Tough Guy.’
Hungry for more rock? Wait…there’s more….look it is the fucking Dwarves!! This bill was a holiday gift that just keeps on giving. The Dwarves (who now call San Francisco home) are the only punk band left that matters. Just ask singer Blag Dahlia and he’ll tell you (as he told everyone in Berkeley).
Sporting tons of bombast, the Dwarves treated the stage like a loud, obnoxious, uncouth, uninvited guest crashing a formal party. Case in point about, three songs into the set a bare-assed HeWhoCannotBeNamed came out (wearing only a mask and a strapped codpiece) and stole the guitar from SF’s own Eric McFadden in what Blag called a ‘racial incident.’ The incognito guitarist then went into the crowd on the shoulders of a roadie…ass cheeks flapping in the air to the howls of most in the crowd, and the dismay to those nearest to him.
Cranking out super-charged rockers like ‘Let’s Fuck,’ ‘Sluts of the USA,’ and ‘Fuck ‘em All,’ Blag, Rex Everything (Nick Oliveri – Kyuss, Queens of the Stoneage), and crew let everybody know “THE DWARVES ARE ROCK LEGENDS!”
Hardcore masters MDC…millions of dead (noun starting with C), kicked early arrivers in the head with ultra-fast, anti-authority detonations like ‘Mein Trumpf,’ ‘Dead Cops / America’s So Straight,’ and ‘Corporate Deathburger.’
Railing against everything from Donald Trump, to fascist police, to the evil Ronald McDonald, MDC proved that their far-left sociopolitical punk rock style has not eroded throughout their career. If anything they are louder and prouder with their harsh opinions than ever before. As singer Dave Dictor pointed out, there is more for MDC to take aim at than ever with ‘Mein Trumpf’ in office.
Local favorites Screaming Bloody Marys rocked the house for the early-early set. Due to the fact that the city of Berkeley parking authority was threatening to tow my car on University, I only got in in time to see them rock ‘Johnny Fucker Faster.” See them if you get the chance.
Here’s a slideshow with more photos from this terrific night by Raymond Ahner:
Forward to Death | Winnebago Warrior | Police Truck | Buzzbomb | Let’s Lynch the Landlord | Jock-O-Rama | Kill the Poor | MP3 Get Off The Web | Too Drunk to Fuck | Moon Over Marin | Nazi Punks Fuck Off | California Über Alles | Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley cover) | Holiday in Cambodia || Chemical Warfare
Find out more about Dead Kennedys here.
Check out T.S.O.L. on their Facebook page.
Everything you want to know about Dwarves can be found here.
More about MDC here.
Screaming Bloody Marys:
Lots of info about Screaming Bloody Marys can be found here.