The Dead Milkmen at First Avenue, 6/7/13
|Photo by Erik Hess|
The Dead Milkmen
with Samuel Locke Ward
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, June 7, 2013
For the uninitiated, the Dead Milkmen are associated with just one song: "Punk Rock Girl," the late '80s anthem that is somehow a sweet love song and a bitterly subversive diatribe all at once. That they played it early in the set at First Avenue on Friday night with little fanfare, underscored something that became obvious early in the set. The Dead Milkmen still have some issues to address and are more pissed off now than they were 25 years ago.
The set got off to a brazen, volatile start with "Tiny Town" the opening track on their 1985 debut Big Lizard in My Backyard and "Tacoland" from 1987's Bucky Fellini, which incited a mosh pit that waxed and waned in population and intensity for the remainder of the night.
The set was filled with songs both old (all of which still sound fantastic) and new (most of which are as acid-tongued and unflinching as anything they have ever written), and between many of them, lead singer Rodney Anonymous, born Rodney Linderman, told stories, cracked jokes, and praised Minnesota for both supporting marriage equality and ridding itself of Michele Bachmann on several occasions during the 75-minute set.
|Photos by Erik Hess|
The night continued to careen along like a rocket car with cut brake lines at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Songs like "Don't Trust the Happy," "Smokin' Banana Peels," "Stuart," and "Bitchin' Camaro" -- without exception -- were somehow both more dangerous and amusing. The Milkmen's trademark furious lyrics over decidedly light-hearted punk has apparently aged like fine wine, which lent an air of comfort over the night's proceedings.
The newer songs from 2011's The King in Yellow like "Fauxhemia" and "Caitlin Childs" -- a song about a real person, arrested by Homeland Security for picketing a HoneyBaked Ham store in 2003 in Georgia -- were angry, acidic. As the Dead Milkmen have aged, they've become more disillusioned with the world and what happens in it. The humor of their old songs has been replaced with rage, but it was interesting to note that it wasn't much of a shift in gears from old to new -- the message was the same, the band is just uninterested to being as obtuse with metaphors like big lizards and the like.