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Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School of Medicine

The Hard-Ons, Zeahorse




A mixed night started slowly with some shonky weekend-style public transport, an eventually reasonable 8:45pm arrival, a delayed entry, and a just-missed opening support slot from Zeahorse. The Metro was also hosting a sealed off Battle of the Bands event, so it was gonna be queues before pees at the WCs; queues at the solitary foyer bar with its $8 plastic cup policy, or the downstairs mantra of "give me convenience or give me death" and yes, I will have fries with that.

Outside The Metro, the city streets pumped in a maddened, coagulated way with car wars, beggars and beer-swillin' bogans. I paused to observe a live artwork installation in the Commonwealth Bank ATM booth, but it was just a crazy homeless guy who'd shat himself and passed out under a sign for low interest home loans. According to Wikipedia, commonwealth means it's for "public welfare; general good or advantage"; so fair enough.

Back upstairs and Punchbowl's finest exports The Hard-Ons provided their own live installation with no holds barred or decibels spared. Sonic aggression, stage charisma and testosterone combined as the trio crashed through each song face-first, bringing their sweaty, long haired, middle aged and excessively shirtless torsos with them but thankfully also their ever-fervent, nimble hands and minds. Bless 'em.

After a short bit of instrumental canoodling from his new bandmates, onto the stage strode ex-Dead Kennedys frontman, spoken word artist, political activist, politician, punk legend and 55 year old American Jello Biafra wielding the mic in his most recent costume of choice, the blood-splattered lab coat with dripping wet blood-red gloves, which many fans clamoured to touch, slap or grapple, to which he happily obliged until finally allowing the latex props to be snapped away like fresh piranha bait. There was still the novelty USA jacket to reveal, quickly followed by the now familiar 'Shock-u-py!' t-shirt, to be met in return with countless ‘gifts’ thrown on stage by the audience - mostly shreds of clothing randomly coughed up by the top-loading moshing machine below.

The familiar piercing guitars and rumbling rhythm of his current band The Guantanamo School of Medicine filled the potentially DK-sized band hole and also brought lots of new songs, strength and a dash of garage youth rock band spirit into the mix. Some old Dead Kennedys material also popped up, like the brisk 'n sloppy pasting of 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' and each time an old favourite started, instant recognition by the crowd led to even greater frenzy.

Exceeding expectations, this explosive punk rock show contained all the body flailing, lyric squealing, hand gesturing and facial mimicking bombardment we could've ever wished from Jello Biafra in what's become a ridiculously rare chance to see him perform in this country.
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