Dead Kennedys / Nekromantix / The Venomous Pinks – The Masquerade, Atlanta, GA, June 16th 2022

  • Pete Gross posted
  • Reviews

Dead Kennedys / Nekromantix / The Venomous Pinks

The Masquerade, Atlanta, GA - June 16th 2022

Our society is divided, split right down the middle. Has there ever been any issue so divisive in punk rock as the right of existence for the Dead Kennedys post Jello Biafra? I was excited to see the Dead Kennedys show added to the Masquerade web site. But for some of my friends it’s, “Naw, I’m not going to DK without Jello. That’s a joke bro.” Or it was “No Jello no go bruh!” I understand this sentiment as minus my own parents, Jello Biafra is the single most influential person on my life. I betook the Covid vaccine only after seeing Jello get the jab on IG. However, I equally loved the chaotic, frenetic, reverb-laden bare sounds of the Dead Kennedys. East Bay Ray’s guitar style went from punk to surf to jazz to stuff from left field on every track. I guess it comes down to how much preference one puts on the politics versus the music in punk rock. For me it’s an even 50/50 split.

The first time I saw Dead Kennedys was on Friday, October 31st 1985, Halloween night, at the Cameo Theater in Miami Beach, Florida. I was 15 years old, mohawk standing tall, and the singer in my band Brian took his parents station wagon so we could go to the show. The show was completely sold out. But with the blessing of the crowd the legendary promoter Richard Shelter and Dead Kennedys let in for free all the people who were stuck outside without tickets! The mighty Italian Raw Power opened the show. I will never forget Jello Biafra opening the Kennedys’ set by asking the crowd if they lived in a free nation or a hell nation! What ensued was the punkest spectacle I have ever witnessed.

My second Dead Kennedys show was my show, at my club. Orbit in Boynton Beach, Florida circa 2001. This time Brandon Cruz, from Dr. Know, who I love, was the singer. Brandon really gave it a good shot. His credentials are second to none. However it just couldn’t match up to the original. How could anyone though. My third Dead Kennedys show was on New Year’s Day in Fort Lauderdale, 2010. At this show I would actually meet my wonderful wife, Samantha! So I guess we could say the third time really was a charm. The singer for Dead Kennedys was the current, Skip. Did I mention I met my wife Samantha at this show?

This show is in the Heaven room of The Masquerade that holds up to like 1,200 people. Phoenix Arizona’s not just a pretty face but in your face exports and SBÄM Records artists The Venomous Pinks hold the opening slot. This trio of gals waste no time in finding their groove live. Singer/guitarist Drea Doll is confident and commanding. Her picking style goes from wide open punk groove to wrist crunching tightness in the blink of an eye. Her chops are always matched dead on by bassist Gaby Kaos, who probably learned to play bass by learning Iron Maiden songs. 

Drea and Gaby are backed up by Cassie Jalilie on drums. Her live drumming is about the closest thing you might ever witness to seeing the late and great icon Bomber from R.K.L. Fast and tight snare rolls that crescendo into beats so tight, it’s like a space shuttle flying through a straw. That is the highest praise you can put on any punk drummer. Cassie Jalilie, I bow down to your greatness as I actually shed a tear of joy. That is also the only way a show can get a 5-star rating in my book. 

Songs like Todos Unidos and the incredible stand out I Want You were all delivered with a punk rock expertise to an adoring crowd. Drea Doll’s guitar solos show-off her harmonic picking skills which were absolutely in the pocket. Talk about no fear; her ‘Fuck the Proud Boys’ t-shirt and chanting of “Fuck Donald Trump” set the political tone any DK show needs. I do not envy any band that has to play after these girls. This was 5-star punk rock perfection.

The Danish turned L.A. ghostly punkabilly rockers, Nekromantix were up next. Nekromantix always struck me like if Reverend Horton Heat was really infatuated with the Misfits in an unhealthy way. Maybe it’s the adrenaline but these guys seem to play their fast songs even faster live. Complete musical dexterity is on display. Singer/coffin bassist Kim Nekroman has mastered being able to play the coffin bass while moving it around the stage without any form of strap or stand to hold the bass. It is quite amazing. His skills are among the greatest bass players of our time: Les Claypool, Flea, Victor Wooten, Geddy Lee, Steve Harris and etc. 

Nekromantix guitarist Francisco Mesa shreds the guitar while drummer Delamuerte pounds along in unison. These guys are tight and well traveled. It just felt a little robotic or mechanical when they played that fast. I actually preferred their sound when they slowed things down like on Horny in a Hearse. The crowd loved them and I liked them. I have complete respect for and enjoyed the level of musicianship, it just lacked the emotional connection I had to The Venomous Pinks.

The Dead Kennedys did a punk AF sound check in front of the 900+ crowd as they were apparently caught in traffic earlier. Klaus Flouride looks like a little old grandpa.  My wife, still by my side, said East Bay Ray gets his wardrobe from the Dollar Tree store or Burlington Coat Factory. It seems that Venomous Cassie is the drum tech and all around guide for D.H. Peligro, like a granddaughter leading around grandpa. So cute.

Singer Skip McSkipster, had a head full of grey hair much like the crowd, which was way more grey hair than spiked hair now. Could Skip possibly have gotten the hang of this after 12 years though? Could this aging almost geriatric crowd still skank without breaking a hip? Well the answer was surprisingly to me, yes on both counts. Songs like Police Truck, Kill The Poor and Too Drunk To Fuck were delivered in vintage form to a fired up crowd hungry for political punk and an outlet for their pent up angst. 

Singer Skip learned some valuable Jello baiting tactics; quitting the band and punk rock forever half way through the show. Skip lambasted the crowd mercilessly for being too old for punk rock and being too old for even Daft Punk. The entire Atlanta scene was now booing as loud as they were once cheering. Skip went on inspiring tirades about members of the LGBTQ community always being here since the beginning of time, Earth overpopulation and the rights of anyone to immigrate to the United States just like all of our grandparents did. Skip has found his voice and has learned the Dead Kennedys way of expressing yourself. Plus, according to my wife, “he dances around the stage like a supped up on sugar toddler two hours late for his nap”. 

Notably, Skip has changed the lyrics to MTV Get Off The Air, to MP3 Get Off The Web. This version of the song is actually really good. This leads me to an obvious question: Why do the Dead Kennedys not record new material? Skip even made jokes about this. Maybe now is finally the time to do so Dead Kennedys. The end of the show saw D.H. Peligro chant the crowd into a barrage of final hits, Nazi Punks Fuck Off, California Uber Alles and Holiday In Cambodia. The Atlanta crowd was vocalizing with passion in full form like at Anfield when the Liverpool crowd erupts into You’ll Never Walk Alone. This was sort of a triumphant return to Atlanta for the Dead Kennedys. In conclusion: A surprising 5-star show, thanks to that tear of joy. This may not be the Dead Kennedys we want however it is the Dead Kennedys we need.

*side note – Outside after the show I was shamelessly passing out stickers for my band, Anti-Terror League, yelling stick it somewhere good if you like us, stick it somewhere bad if you don’t”, when I noticed a distressed punk who couldn’t find his ride. He was 1.5 hours away from home in Buford, and looking at sleeping at the MARTA bus station until 5 a.m. Did we snatch him up and take him home safely? Of course we did. No better way to end a Dead Kennedys show than getting home a stranger from the scene in need of a ride.