The Dead Kennedys at The 1865, Southampton on 5.5.2023 with Pissbath supporting

The 1865 seems to be my venue of the moment – my updated blog on the venue is here. It’s attracting bands I want to see and I really like the place.

Tonight, it’s to see San Francisco’s punk legends, The Dead Kennedys….well as they are today. While at school, the novel vibrating voice of original frontman, Jello Biafra, combined with regular John Peel show airings of the band’s singles and other tracks, imprinted them firmly in my consciousness.

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There weren’t that many punk bands from the US, that had reputations that travelled across the Atlantic. They were a little late to the party with the first album not appearing until 1980, but that suited my timescales. They broke up by 1986 and I never did get to see them live. The break up was a big one, which led to Jello Biafra being sued by the other three original band members over the payment of royalties and they won. So the distinctive voice was lost. The current touring Dead Kennedys four piece includes two originals: East Bay Ray on guitars and Klaus Flouride on bass and backing vocals. Frontman is Ron ‘Skip’ Greer who has been with them since 2008… and he’s good.

East Bay Ray – guitars – at The 1865
Klaus Flouride – bass/ backing vocals – at The 1865

It’s another packed house tonight. Yes, the audience has aged with the band but tonight the angry youth inside is allowed out. Near impossible to get forward with a pint and if you do you’re going to lose it and be covered in some more. Support band Pissbath, also from the US, got some appreciation but I was up on the balcony and at the bar, catching up with mates. Considerable excitement as they take to the stage. It’s not every week the Dead Kennedys are in the country.

Frontman Ron ‘Skip’ Greer flanked by Klaus Flouride and East Bay Ray – Southampton 1865

We managed to push down the side left a bit (here with Plymouth Dave tonight) and I end up wandering a bit to get a better view and grab a video up at the raised back bar – so as not to obstruct or get hit by a flying pint.

They open with Forward to Death, from THE album for me: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. Released in 1980, it’s the only one I bought (later on CD) and I am less familiar when leaving this one. Half the set is from this album so that’s a relief.

Dead Kennedys at The 1865

The front section moves and leans in the direction of frontman Skip. He disappears down into the pit from time to time, emerging to towel down his sweat soaked head.

Really good sound, at volume, this. After several later album tracks, so as not to peak too early, first album single Kill The Poor makes an entrance. Fists are pumping and the mosh pit sways. Too Drunk to F*ck is probably well known for all the wrong reasons but well received, with smiles.

East Bay Ray and Klaus Flouride keep to their opening positions – concentrating on keeping it together. Only front man Skip is mobile. Strong drums beat from the back.

The one minute EP track Nazi Punks F*ck Off is cheered, perhaps for longer than the song itself. A curious addition to any John Peel show at the start of the 80s. Well meaning yet almost comical. After that, one we have all been hoping for: California ├╝ber Alles. What an anthem. They leave the stage and a main set timed to ensure more is an urgent necessity.

The Dead Kennedys – back for more at at The 1865

I’m up at the back next to the bar at this point and captured the first of the encores, Bleed For Me, on my camera video. (Here on my YouTube Channel.) This is followed by cover Viva Las Vegas, which appeared on that first album, before another of the Dead Kennedys’ prize nuggets, Holiday in Cambodia (link to another Grey-Haired Gig Goer video). Times have changed eh? Every song a mini history lesson – I have been on holiday there since its release and couldn’t stop singing it.

To finish, another first album classic, Chemical Warfare. More steam, the last steam, is let off. So glad I made it to see The Dead Kennedys, at last. Well I guess I had not tried that hard in the post Jello Biafra years, when I could have done, and realise now I should have done.

Published by ivaninblack

Still wild about live music - bands - gigs - festivals - after 42 years at it. All photos have been snapped by me or I will point out otherwise - I'll even own up to any blurry mobile phone ones. If gigaholic is a phrase then in recent years I think I've become one.

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