Jun 272011

Head over to Mondoweiss to read Colin Kalmbacher’s thoughts on what Jello’s gig in Tel Aviv would mean for the future of punk rock. Here’s a snippet of it:

In a surprisingly well-lit basement I found myself alone and in the best of company.

Of course, Jello Biafra’s words came accompanied with music that sounded like Dick Dale on dextroamphetamine. These were your, our, the Dead Kennedys. America’s foremost political punk rock band and one of the most seminal groups of all time.

It was the purest, fastest, nastiest and most abrasive music still capable of retaining melody. And it came outfitted with anthemic battle cries, calls to action and instructions on how squares ought to fuck right off. I was no intellectual. But this was music with so much intelligence, passion and daring that it seemed as if Rimbaud picked up an Armalite and joined the fifth column.

Read the full thing at Mondoweiss.

  2 Responses to “Does Jello Biafra’s possible Tel Aviv show mark bedtime for punk rock relevancy?”

  1. Jello is a dinosaur and he obviously wants to be one. I for one never was really interested at all in the Dead Kennedys and my first serious experience of US Punk was in the 90s (an Oklahoma girls band whose name I can’t recall – also L7 but these were more commercial). “My” Punk (1984 and following years) is in Basque and Spanish mostly and soon evolved to hardcore because raw Punk was already obsolete. I’m still waiting for whatever comes after hardcore.

    In the Mondoweiss discussion (how hollow for the most part) there was a note on identification of nihilism and Punk. And whatever they say there is indeed a nihilist current in Punk. It’s not just Vicious it’s Rotten and his Fascism and it’s Jello playing in Tel Aviv indeed. There is a compromised Punk (The Clash and many others, you can’t miss them: their lyrics say it all) and there is a junky Punk (nihilism of the ok class) and there is a Fashion Punk, which is nihilism of the not ok class: a Puk only interested in image and appearance and not in substance and dignity.

    And Jello is a Fashion Punk and never was anything better. It’s better to get rid of such companies. And I for one won’t cry for “losing” a leech. Let him go with the other “Sir Dinosaurs” of pop (rock?) music.

    • I agree that nihilism in punk rock is a leech on punk as a whole, though I’m not sure what you mean by “nihilism of the ok class”. At any rate, I really don’t see how Jello/DK can be considered nihilistic: DK railed against imperialism, war, racism, sexism, homophobia, neo-Nazis, and – indeed – the nihilism in various punk scenes.

      The reason this is heartbreaking is because to many people, myself included, DK & Jello represented something of the best in political punk. I won’t dispute that there were always non-political (Sex Pistols) or wishy-washy political (The Clash) punk bands, but DK’s politics were always much better than that. And now Jello is bucking the call of an oppressed people to aid and take part in their struggle, which is incredibly disheartening.

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