There is a band that calls themselves the Dead Kennedys. Are you offended yet? They hope so!
The Dead Kennedys (let’s write that as many times as I can) are a punk rock group from around the time your grandparents had your parents, 1978 or so. The Dead Kennedys are one of the first California punk bands. Punk originally exploded in England, and to most everyone’s dismay, the sound designed to piss off the aristocracy soon found its way to New York City, Washington D.C., and then reared its ugly head in San Francisco of all places. The city known for the smell, or um, scene that spawned everything hippie, including the Grateful Dead, had a menace.
If there was ever a distorted and weird enough figure to front the new rebellion, it was Dead Kennedys’ (original singer) Jello Biafra. (Let’s pretend that’s his real name because it’s better that way.) Jello sang with a gruff, gravely voice and a vibrato that fluctuates like acid reflux in the best way possible.
The Dead Kennedys’ soundtracks are filled with haunting bass lines that prevent the music from falling into an ocean of guitar atom bombs that often sound like punk rock James Bond theme songs. Just the thing to make your parents scream “turn that off,” or the classic, “what is wrong with you?!”
The band is not without intelligence though. The Dead Kennedys are a thoroughly political entity. Their song “Holiday in Cambodia” satirizes the idea of opulence and wealth that leads to spoiled Americans traveling to poverty-stricken countries for vacations at pristine, all-inclusion, white sand beaches by suggesting they visit Cambodia––a southeast Asian country where legendary dictator Pol Pot (immortalized in the refrain of the Dead Kennedy’s song) murdered 1.5 million citizens.
Jello himself once ran for mayor of San Francisco. Surprisingly, he was taken seriously, and the man did rather well in the election for someone whose slogan was stolen from the Jell-O gelatin dessert company, “there’s always room for Jell-O.” He finished third out of ten.
Can you imagine trotting down the streets of Hyannisport in a Dead Kennedys t-shirt? You could take a stroll right up to the Kennedy compound with two middle fingers in the air. So, what are you waiting for…go see the Dead Kennedys at Big Night Live in Boston on June 08. (Disclaimer: Jello Biafra is no longer with the band, and you will have to listen to some hack cosplay greatness).