Jello Biafra might be the biggest enigma in punk rock. He is equal parts showman, genius and madman and he hasn’t lost any of the magic that made him a legend back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Biafra is nothing like his contemporaries, he vocally mocks the machismo that plagued the hardcore punk scene in favor of an awkward, spastic stage presence that is a little unsettling and visually awesome.
Two years back, on a whim, I stopped by Asbury Lanes to check out Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. I was worried that much like his peers that used to front legendary punk bands, he would eschew his hits for new, artsy tunes that I wouldn’t know or enjoy. I was shocked to find out that this wasn’t the case at all. The Guantanamo School of Medicine easily matches the original Dead Kennedys in terms of song writing musicianship. I could close my eyes and imagine that this is exactly what the Kennedys would have sounded like today had they never fallen apart amidst a flurry of name calling and ego stroking.
The best part? Jello Biafra dove into the past (and into the crowd) on more than a handful of occasions, performing classics like “California Uber Alles” and “Too Drunk to Fuck.” Sure, Biafra might no longer look like the spry, gangly punk who trashed stages clad in gardening gloves, but his voice is still on point and his energy is unending. I stopped taking photos for a song to capture the video above of “Holiday in Cambodia,” which he performed while bouncing in and out of the rabid audience. It was a memory that I’ll never forget and I show I’m so glad I attended. Definitely check out the recent records by Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine and make sure you catch him next time he swing by on tour.
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