Jello Five-O Birthday Celebration – [Live]

Monday, 23 June 2008

San Francisco has definitely had its fair share of "once in a lifetime" type shows over the years. And from Metallica on stage with Mercyful Fate at The Stone to a "surprise" Nine Inch Nails gig at The Oasis, or an epic Mentors New Year's Eve show, I've been lucky enough to witness more than a few performances that most people never got the opportunity to see, simply because they never happened anywhere else. As I look back on all those great moments however, I would have to say that they all pale in comparison to the "Only in San Francisco" Jello Biafra 50th birthday epic that took place at The Great American Music Hall.

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Jello Biafra is an icon. The guy has always spoken his mind and done things on his own terms while not giving a fuck about what anyone has to say about it. To me, that alone is enough of a reason to honor the him. But this was the eve of his big Five-O, and he threw a celebration for himself as only he could.

Kicking off the festivities were the one and only Melvins, who played nothing but songs from their Mangled Demos, originally released in 1983. With Buzz on guitar and vox, Dale Crover on bass and original drummer Mike Dillard behind the kit, the band tore through ten songs in about twenty-five minutes. Favorites of mine from their set would have to include both "Snake Appeal" and "I Don't Know." This little blast from the past was a side to The Melvins that you don't often get to see live, and I was pretty stoked to have witnessed it. And although they were the perfect opener for this show, it would not be the last we would see from Buzz and company.

As the beer continued to flow and the excitement continued to build, San Jose's Los Olvidados hit the stage and proceeded to deliver an awesome set of "old school" skate-punk at its finest. Watching this band it was hard to believe that they first hit the punk rock scene over twenty-five years ago. Guitarist Mike Fox was a fucking bad ass, and his riffs combined with the vocals of Mike Voss were totally reminiscence of bands like The Faction, J.F.A. and Black Flag. The band couldn't have been any tighter as they showed the kids in the crowd what punk rock was like back in their parents' days, and as I was standing there listening to "Something New" and "Bang Bang Your Dead" I couldn't help but flash back to the days of my youth in suburbia on my Sims Screamer.

Hardly giving the meatheads in the "pit" (which was MUCH different at the punk rock shows of my youth) a chance to catch their breath, Drunk Injuns came out and picked up right where Los Olividados left off. Despite their Indian Ghost Warrior spirit masks, I couldn't help but notice that this band looked and sounded a lot like the previous band on stage (wink wink, nudge nudge). At any rate Drunk Injuns—along with a pretty stoked looking kid who couldn't have been more than ten years old—delivered yet another set of classic punk rock, and by the time they finished their set the stage had been set for the main event of the evening.

As he and his new band, The Axis Of Evildoers, hit the stage it took all of two minutes for me to realize that Jello still has the same energy, charisma, and voice as he did when I saw him fronting the Dead Kennedys at The Mabuhay Gardens over twenty years earlier. Watching him up there all I could think was that I hope I am like him when I am 50 years old (which is only 10 short years away).

As for his new band, The Axis Of Evildoers, they were quite simply amazing. Although guitarist Ralph Spight (Victims Family) and drummer John Weiss (Sharkbait) were both kicking some serious ass, it was the bass of Billy Gould (Faith No More) that really blew me away. It was pretty damn thunderous, and gave the band a bit of a "metal" sound. Together the foursome ripped through about a half a dozen or so new songs, all of which sounded just as good, if not better, than any DK song from yesteryear. I believe song titles included "Three Strikes" and "Panicland." I am really looking forward to hearing more from this band.

Just as the evening was seeming to reach a climax, Buzz re-appeared on stage with surprise guest Adam Jones of Tool, and this new "band" proceeded to kick the crowd's ass with Jelvins, Lard and DK classics. Although "Forkboy" (dedicated to S.F. mayor Gavin Newsom) was hands down my personal favorite song of the evening, it was smokin' versions of "California Über Alles" and "Holiday In Cambodia" that had the place going fucking nuts. And as a shirtless Jello dove into the crowd, I realized that being "punk rock" isn't about age, it's about spirit, and Jello has more of it than anyone half his age.


Melvins – Nude With Boots will be out July 8, 2008, on Ipecac. Pre-Order NOW on Amazon!

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Melvins Nude With Boots review – [Album]


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