Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo School of Medicine’

Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine performing California Über Alles at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA. Filmed on April 17, 2013.

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Punk rock icon Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine headlined a show last Wednesday night at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. As one of the pioneers of punk rock, Jello Biafra’s presence attracted a large and diverse crowd. One could spot guests as young as 21 and as old as 70 in this crowd. Jello’s political views also managed to draw in non-punk rock listeners just to listen to his musings between songs. But before we could get to Jello, three other local bands opened up the night with their sets.

Kicking off the night, White Murder entertained the crowd with their dueling female singers. Their sound did not resemble typical punk rock; rather, their music carried a hard yet indie sound to it. Imagine a cross between Bikini Kill and Sahara Hotnights to better understand White Murder’s sound. Whereas one singer in a band typically carries the melody, with White Murder, both vocalists sang different parts to create harmony in their songs. Fans of indie rock will definitely want to check out White Murder soon to discover something great.

Up next, Death Hymn Number 9 clamored to the stage with their strange and unique set. Appearing as zombies or ghouls, these guys come off as a total surprise during the show. Upon initial appearance, the guitarist remained seated during the entire performance, a rarity in the punk rock industry. The vocalist and bassist liked to spend time down on the floor with the crowd, screaming and moving with the sway of the crowd. Speaking of screaming, their music style did not match any preconceived notions of guests not familiar with the band. Once the vocalist let loose, all guests received an earful of thrash punk core music. They did not stop to humor the guests between songs – they kept the fast pace up the entire time. If not for the headliner, Death Hymn Number 9 wins for most entertaining act of the night.

Ominous winds blow about as the hour for Jello Biafra neared. Once the dust settled, Spindrift waltzed through the fog. This psychedelic rock band played 95% instrumentals and 5% vocals, sticking with their western theme throughout the set. As a break from a punk rock night, the music mainly flowed slowly, as if telling a story with music. One could certainly envision hearing this type of music around a campfire while telling ghost stories. However, the slowness of the music plus the fact that they did not pause between songs made their set feel dragging. Their set also lasted 40 minutes, twice as long as the prior two bands, which only played for 20 minutes each. I understand that the second-to-last band gets more time than openers, but when a band does not match the genre of the rest of the bands, they cannot stay on stage as long as they did.

Jello Biafra did not hide anything prior to his set. Once the band had finished setting up, they took their respective spots, while Jello decided to warm up outside the bar. All fans eagerly awaited as Jello fired himself up for his lengthy set. Jello needed all the energy he could muster, as he rarely took any dead time during the set. Whenever given a chance, such as between songs or during instrumental sections in songs, Jello would go into some sort of ranting about politics. In fact, during California Über Alles, Jello stretched the middle bridge section to a few minutes just to rant about the corruption in government. The crowd initially received Jello very well, remaining in place while jamming to the music. By a few songs into the set, the crowd finally woke up and started the pit… a delayed reaction, perhaps. This relentless energy kept up all the way to the end of the set, but everyone could tell that the band would return for an encore. Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine returned for a two-song encore, where they played a new song, then ended the night with Holiday In Cambodia. Coincidentally, Cambodian New Year had just ended a day prior.

Any fan of punk rock simply must watch Jello Biafra perform live. Jello made a surprise appearance with the Dead Kennedys at Coachella this year, but how many times can he truly appear with them now? You can catch the Dead Kennedys at Ink-N-Iron this June, but no one knows if the set will include a special cameo by Jello. Plenty more great punk rock shows will take place in the upcoming weeks, so bookmark this blog and check back every week for upcoming events in Southern California.