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The Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra is like the Stones without Mick Jagger

By David Espinoza

FIRST A VIDEO game by the Rockstar Corporation that turns the WTO "Battle in Seattle" protests of 1999 into nothing but a chance for fashionable computer-generated anarchists to riot. Then the GAP posts faux graffiti slogans on its windows to look rebellious. And now this--a Dead Kennedys "reunion" that's missing one very key figure: Jello Biafra.

Though you wouldn't know it from Ticketmaster (the Microsoft of live entertainment) or Manifesto Records, the so-called Dead Kennedys CD-release party (a live album) and reunion tour, which hits the Catalyst this Friday (Nov. 16), includes former members Klaus Flouride, East Bay Ray and D.H. Peligro, but no Jello. Sitting in for the legendary lead vocalist of one of the greatest punk bands of all time is Brandon Cruz of Dr. Know.

If this had been one of those situations where the lead singer left the band, got fired or died from a drug overdose, continuing the Dead Kennedys might be easier to accept. But Jello Biafra is very much alive, and he's not too happy about the "reunion" of a band that broke up almost 15 years ago. On the other side of the coin, the ex-members of the Dead Kennedys have had a long legal battle with Biafra (he isn't known to be the easiest person to get along with), and there's always the argument that the other members of the band should have the right to continue the music even if the lead singer isn't down with it. Of course, Jello Biafra is to the Dead Kennedys what Mick Jagger is to the Rolling Stones, what Morrissey is to the Smiths and what Dick Cheney is to the Bush administration. If the three ex-members want to continue making music, why not at least do their former band some justice and play under a different name? The answer is simple: the money is in the Dead Kennedys. Flouride, East Bay Ray, Peligro and Cruz might as well be playing the Boardwalk along with all the other nostalgia bands. Punk has never been more sold out.

Split CD

The kiddies in town will be happy to know that hard-core-emo boys Jetlag finally have a recording out available to the public. Prior to the eight-song split CD with the Lonely Kings, off of Sessions Records, Jetlag basically had a demo out for the last few years. The contrast between the two bands' styles is refreshing. Jetlag makes a dissonant and blistering assault on the ears, while the Lonely Kings offer a more melodic and melancholy representation. The effort as a whole is one of the stronger releases of the year and deserves a four out of five surfboard rating. In support of the new release, Jetlag will be hitting the road for the first time along with veterans the Lonely Kings throughout the Pacific Northwest in December.

Stirred, Not Shaken

Not since SC's defunct Monkey Magnet has their been a zine more dedicated to the local scene than Doris Martini. The fact that it's an audiozine (possibly the first of its kind), in which the listener gets an eclectic mix of local bands, reviews of other subculture zines and Onion-inspired news via a CD, makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Released on a monthly basis, Doris Martini offers local bands of all persuasions (the November/December issue includes material by the Huxtables, Craig's Brother and Last Friday's Generation) a chance to be heard on a larger scale. The production work is top-notch and is the equivalent of one of those posh music and pop culture magazines found at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

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From the November 14-21, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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