Recap: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at Reggies

Phil Collins - June 15, 2014

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Jello Biafra is rightfully considered to be among a class of legendary performers in punk rock history. The long-time San Fransisco activist and musician is best known for his work with the seminal punk band Dead Kennedys. It feels wrong, though, to merely discuss him as an important figure in the punk encyclopedia after witnessing him throw down with his current band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. The band recently released their third album, "White People and the Damage Done." Like the recorded works of JBATGSM that came before it, the new album is a familiar yet fresh kick in the face. They played a number of the new songs Saturday night at Reggies Rock Club, including "John Dillinger," "The Brown Lipstick Parade" and "Shock-U-Py!," which was originally released as a 10-inch. These are fiery, acidic anthems that bring to mind Jello's former band but, more than that, make me glad this guy is still writing new material.

Of course, some Dead Kennedys songs were played and those were some of the most raucous times for the pit. "California Uber Alles" and "Holiday in Cambodia" were Dead Kennedys' biggest hits and they were the first and last DK songs played Saturday night. Jello dove right at me during "Holiday in Cambodia," a moment which instantly made the lifetime highlight reel. They also played "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," "Chemical Warfare" and "Kill the Poor." That makes four tracks from Dead Kennedys' classic album, "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables," and one track from their perfect hardcore release, "In God We Trust, Inc."

Ultimately, Jello has taken the best approach to his post-DK career. DK is not going to get back together. That ship has sailed. So he started a new band, wrote new songs and released new albums. Sure, this band sounds similar to DK and sure, they play some DK songs at their shows. They are not calling themselves DK because they are not DK. They are their own thing. Their own thing that happens to have a punk icon for a lead singer. Give history its due and keep moving forward.