Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra Playing Camp Counselor At DC’s Legendary 9:30 Club

Confronting the realistic limits of anarchy in a music scene? So not punk rock, so very interesting.

The Dead Kennedys are playing a show at Washington DC’s legendary 9:30 Club, where the east coast hardcore scene flourished and where the Dischord Records bands played all the time. If you wanted to see Minor Threat, you went to 9:30. But by the time of this video - 1985, I believe - the hardcore scene had gotten really ugly and really violent. What had begun as an intelligent youthful expression of anger, anarchy and rebellion had been heavily co-opted by meatheads and jock types, who saw punk shows as an excuse to hurt people and break things. The anarchy that Jello Biafra and the rest of the DKs were interested in was a very different flavor than the destructive anarchy these kids were looking for.

And so there was friction. Lots of it. This sort of thing is part of what broke the band apart, and Biafra wrote a whole bunch of songs near the end of the Dead Kennedys’ life addressing the violent crowds and half assed punks - songs like Macho Insecurity and Chickenshit Conformist.

Anyway, this video felt like a really cool (but sort of sad) moment in time, where a hard left radical was forced to play the right wing peacekeeper. The band actually asks fans to turn in other fans who might have seen the perpetrator of a beer can tossing! And it contains the songs When You Get Drafted and Soup Is Good Food!