Punk rock is for ugly people. It's for the misfits of society. Punk rock is angry passion, and you have to be willing to get ugly to show that kind of passion. Just try and think about Ricky Martin or Justin Timberlake singing punk without laughing. No fuckin' way.
The Dead Kennedys play punk. They were started in the late 70's when Sid Vicious was alive and Johnny Rotten wasn't a joke (at least, to everyone). DK, led by Jello Biafra, was our own homegrown Sex Pistols, but with a higher IQ and better sense of humor. I couldn't imagine DK without JB anymore than I could see The Doors without Jim Morrison. What would be the point? Jello Biafra was the Dead Kennedys, or so I thought.
DK played live at The Roadhouse in Sacramento on Friday night. I had heard that JB and the other original DK members were involved in a legal pissing match, as the band toured without him. Even harder to believe was that DK was now being fronted by Brandon Cruz. Brandon is best known as Eddie in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father". Little Eddie as a punk? No fuckin' way. I had to see this.
While the last opening band put away their equipment and the roadies set things up for DK, I staked out my spot directly in front of the stage. I was surrounded by 30-something guys, reminiscing about how crazy things got the last time they saw DK live. It wasn't long before almost everyone in the place had formed a thick standing crowd behind us.
When the house lights went out, it reminded me of the first time I got caught in a really big ocean wave. The crowd surged forward, crushing me. Then it shifted left, right, back and forth. I grabbed onto a speaker and tried to hold my prime spot as DK took the stage. The first chords sounded so loud that I couldn't believe the people without earplugs were still standing. People behind me where pushing and pulling my body at the same time. Those beside me where getting smashed together while someone else tried to force their way to the front of the stage.
Brandon was wearing a sleeveless denim jacket and red knit cap that wouldn't stay on long. Klaus Flouride, the original DK bassist and East Bay Ray, the co-founding guitarist looked more like middle-aged computer geeks than punk rockers. The drummer, D.H. Peligro , with his long wild braided hair was the only one that looked the part of a rock star. I really didn't pay a lot of attention to the band. I was too occupied with the music and the crowd. It was mob anarchy.