The liberty spike comb-over
The twins hunt down punk rock cred and praise Jello Biafra
Published: October 13, 2010
On Saturday night the Wonder Twins headed to Small's in Hamtramck to jump in the pit of punk rock history with the legendary Jello Biafra. Best known for heading up the seminal punk band The Dead Kennedys, Biafra was in town with his newest outfit, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
D'Anne: I think it's only fair that I start off with a full disclosure: I don't go to shows that have pits very often. Unless the pits in question are underneath arms.
Laura: Well, this was an opportunity for you to add to your punk rock cred.
D'Anne: I have no punk rock cred.
Laura: I think that seeing Jello Biafra at Small's with the Bill Bondsmen and They Never Sleep is a good way to start.
D'Anne: It was either that or sew a Misfits patch on the back of the jean jacket I bought at Chess King in 1994. And you know how much I hate to sew.
Laura: The show kicked off with Bill Bondsmen, Detroit's finest band named after a local newscaster.
D'Anne: I can't help but wonder what Bill Bonds thinks of them.
Laura: I don't know. I just hope that he appreciates the homage. And maybe someday he and the band can do a Gardner White commercial together.
D'Anne: That would be an intense furniture theme song for sure. [Singing in a nowhere near-approximation of Tony Bevaque's voice:] "Buy a fucking chair and sit your goddamn ass down. Hell, take the whole dinnette set during our employee discount sale." [Starts to cough]
Laura: That'll do, D'Anne. Seriously. Don't hurt yourself.
D'Anne: Thank you for your concern. His voice is so intense. I could pretty much hear the polyps forming on his vocal cords as he screamed.
Laura: It's hard to believe that this is the same guy who, after the show, told us how much he likes to read Camus and Rimbaud and kept showing us pictures of his cats.
D'Anne: It's not so hard to believe. Cats are pretty hardcore. I mean, a panther could totally kick anybody's ass. In fact, throw a panther in the pit. That would make things interesting.
Laura: Speaking of interesting pit, I was astonished to see that the person most enthusiastic about starting one during Bill Bondsmen was a 9-year-old child.
D'Anne: My favorite part was when he pushed you. Like, came out of the pit, through the crowd to the back of the room and shoved you. At first I was all, "Oh, shit. It's on!" But you totally pussied out.
Laura: He was not looking to fight me, he was clearly just not happy with the size of the pit and brought it upon himself to "invite" people personally. And I would like it on record that I could totally take on a 9 year old. He's lucky I was feeling generous.
D'Anne: The next band was They Never Sleep. Lead singer Mike Hard looks so familiar. A lot like Brad Garrett from "Everybody Loves Raymond" or Dan Hedaya, actually.
Laura: He reminded me of a just-escaped-from-the-asylum version of Count Scary. Soundwise he reminded me of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Lux Interior of the Cramps.
D'Anne: At one point he sang, "Don't need a pharmacist," and I thought, "No, dude. You clearly self-medicate. "
Laura: They Never Sleep put on a really good show. The crowd was really into it, and toward the end of their set, the room was packed.
D'Anne: Although I must say, usually if you have to ask, "Do we have time for one more?" then you don't.
Laura: Especially when they took so long setting up. People were getting antsy for Jello Biafra.
D'Anne: Since I kept accidentally saying we were going to see Mojo Nixon I had no idea what to expect.
Laura: That's so weird that you mix them up. It's easy to tell the two apart. Jello Biafra wrote, "Too Drunk to Fuck" while Mojo Nixon wrote, "Tie My Pecker to My Leg."
D'Anne: Personally I prefer the mash-up: "Tie My Pecker to My Leg Because I'm Too Drunk to Fuck."
Laura: I was really excited that the song "Jello Biafra" by Wesley Willis was playing as the band took the stage. I think every band that Willis ever wrote a song about should play it as their intro music.
D'Anne: I hope the Rolling Stones and the Foo Fighters are reading this.
Laura: Jello was wearing an "Iraq Vets Against the War" shirt. His band tore right into it — not surprisingly, the sound was very reminiscent of the Dead Kennedys. I'm not complaining.
D'Anne: I was surprised by how much he just looked like a normal guy — just like a dad. But like, somebody's dad with fake blood on his shirt and hands who's constantly railing against the government.
Laura: I think those kind are called "NASCAR dads."
Laura: I'm glad he looks like a regular guy. He is getting older, and nobody likes a liberty spikes comb-over. Which, among some of the more veteran punkers at the show, I'm pretty sure I saw at least once.
D'Anne: When the band started a song called "Electronic Plantation," which essentially compared the current American labor market to, well, slavery, I thought, "Give me a break."
Laura: But lyrically speaking, the song actually paints a pretty accurate and damning picture of working in America. "Factory or PhD/ You are all termites now/ Laptop is your ball and chain/Til we downsize you away."
D'Anne: He's obviously a very smart guy. And quite the politician. I bet Sen. Dianne Feinstein still to this day thanks her lucky stars he didn't edge her out of the San Francisco mayoral campaign back in the late '70s.
Laura: Totally. He's really tightened up his political game since then though — sure, he's pretty eccentric, but pretty damn smart. Smarter than the people he handed the microphone after saying, "Here is your golden opportunity to say something intelligent."
D'Anne: Those "intelligent statements" included, "I love Jello Biafra!," "Fuck the government" and "Punk rock has no barriers tonight, baby!" I can't help but wonder if passing the mic in this way in search of intelligent thought shakes his faith in humanity.
Laura: I really liked the new songs, but I have to say the highlight for me was when the Motor City Rah Rahs paraded onto the stage during the Dead Kennedys classic "California �ber Alles."
D'Anne: Something about 1980s political screeds really whips today's crowds into a frenzy.
Laura: Biafra at one point made a reference to Obama and asked the crowd, "So what do you think of Obama now?" The crowd booed and generally reflected the pervasive "left behind" feeling of progressives in this country.
D'Anne: Which shows that you don't have to be disgusted with Reagan to rally around punk rock. Any politician will do!
Laura: True. It doesn't look like politically minded punk rockers will run out of material anytime soon.
D'Anne: Nope. In Punk We Trust, Inc. Amen.
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