Jello Biafra

London, Astoria Theatre

October 22 1998


One of my regrets, is that I was never into the Dead Kennedys while they existed. I never got the chance to see them live. I think that nowadays, if there was band I wish Iíd seen, or had the opportunity to see, it wouldíve been them in their heyday. But itís not to be. And so I never thought Iíd see the day Iíd get my first chance to see Biafra perform, in whatever capacity. This was spoken word. So itís slightly harder to describe, slightly different to the norm covered in YAZ. And so important you wonít begin to understand. I even missed Iron Maiden last night while saving a bit of money for this. Ah, shouldnít say that should I? Blow my credibility. Metal head in appreciating Biafra shocker. Yeah, well in that classic American youth culture way of expressing yourself in the most elegant and thoughtful manner possible, ďfuck youĒ. And so, the drive down begins ...

Donít know where you start with this really, so howís about, me being me, some complaints. Not so much complaints, as observations. 3 hours is a long time to sit through stuff which is at times political, and aimed at Americans, despite Biafraís best attempts to draw parallels with the UK. Also, a lot of the material, such as message to the president, Why Iím Glad The Space Shuttle Blew Up and more already appears on the numerous spoken word albums. But, I mean, even for this guy, thereís only a certain amount of topics that can be covered, and given that itís his first appearance here in some 15 years or more, then itís not like many people have had the chance to see him perform it. And anyway, it still applys. Itís still as cutting as ever.

At one stage, discussing music censorship, Biafra states how he would like to be Marilyn Manson at the moment, ďcan you imagine having all these people stop what theyíre doing to discuss you and whether or not to allow you play. The power of thatĒ. But in many respects, Biafra is much more dangerous than Manson. He points out problems. He researches it, and sometimes the most scary bit, is that he proposes solutions. Some are radical. Some make sense. ďLetís get rid of the homeless, give them a home. Legalise squatting.Ē ďThereís a minimum wage, letís have a maximum wage.Ē Thereís the tale, associated with the Space Shuttle, of a mission containing 72lbs of Plutonium orbiting the Earth, which is to make, in his words, ďa fly byĒ on August 16 next year. Apparently one speck is enough to give you cancer.

Regarding music, thereís the tales of all the people who are in power in the States who control things. Companies taking over chain-stores and sensoring what is sold, or in one instance, banning all rock records (read into that punk, metal, garage, whatever) on the grounds that they are Satanic. The Tipper sticker, you know the one, parental advisory. Well, they apparently want to apply them to gigs as well ďhow can you do that? You donít know when Iggy Pop is going to decide to dance nakedĒ. Tales of control, and of one guy who writes to him from a cell, where he is doing eight (8) years for being found with some dope on campus.

It comes to an end, with the tale of the court case of East Bay Ray and the rest of the DKs against Biafra and Alternative Tentacles. The man is visibly pissed off at this. Now, I donít know the other side of the story, and we should always hear two sides to a story, but it is a sad case and situation. Letís hope that one resolves itself soon.

Thereís way too much gone on here to mention. How about the punk that got on stage to try to get to him, was pushed off, and walked up and spat on him. ďDonít kick him out, let him stayĒ urges Biafra to the security. I donít know why the punk did it. Was he disagreeing with something Biafra said, in which case heís probably a christian fundamentalist in an unsual dress sense. Or maybe, as appears to have been the case in recent years, he just feels Biafra has sold out. A point touched on towards the end, when, as Biafra says, you donít have to go ďfull onĒ in one direction. Because people find they canít handle that and slingshot totally the other way. I may have been accused of not being totally full on, and as a result get accused of being a sell out and beaten upĒ he says, in reference to having both his legs broken a few years ago by some punks, and with a stare in the direction of where the guy from earlier might have been.

How about elections. ďI remember when they actually discussed policies in the run up to an electionĒ he says, holding a copy of Time magazine from the last US election with the headline Miss X Vs Miss Y, whoíll make the better first wifeĒ. A fair point. Really, there is too much. Iím not a political person. I dislike politics because I dislike politicians. I donít trust them and I donít care for them. This gig isnít going to suddenly make me go out and become some political activist, despite my applauding much of what was said. And yes, I do know that some people can say that we were blindly accepting what he says in just the same manner as the people that he vents against. But, I listen to his stuff to hear a different point of view to that which we are often told. I read some stuff occassionally, just to try and keep an open mind. Itís good to be reminded of things, because although I might not do anything, it maybe, just maybe, helps me to avoid some degree of complacency. Maybe thatís enough. Maybe not.

I strongly recommend checking out at least one of his spoken word sets. Valley of The Gift Police, at 3 CDs is long, but it contains a lot of what was covered tonight. It is humours. It is scary. It is, possibly, paranoid and conspiracy theory. But if it makes you just think occassionally about some of these things, then, maybe like me, thatís enough.

If you read the front of this issue, then youíll know Iíve been having major reservations about carrying on with this. Thereís a few things that have maybe pointed me towards carrying on, and a few voices of encouragement. And also, Biafra pointed out, one of the best things to come out of punk wasnít the music. But the DIY, the zines. Heíll never read this. This zine is pretty much totally music oriented, whereas many zines do have political aspirations and tendencies. Like I said, thatís not me.

But this is a zine, it is DIY, and, without trying to be overly important, itís good enough reason maybe for me to keep doing it. A thought provoking evening. And, I only saw one wallet chain all evening, and that was attached to a Deftones t-shirt.