The Dead Milkmen at First Avenue, 6/7/13

Categories: Last Night
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. 

See Also:
Slideshow: The Dead Milkmen at First Avenue, 6/7/13

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.

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Great article. Be sure to keep an ear out for the DM remixes coming in July!!! (not like I'd know anything about that hehehe) Some of them, maybe all of them will be FREE to download as well.

swmnguy topcommenter

I had a great time at the show.  It was not my first time seeing them.  It was my first time sober.  20 years ago...well, I was a different guy then.

I did forget my earplugs, for which I was quite sorry Saturday morning.  But mostly, I agree with the reviewer.  I had a great time.  I thought the show was a little longer than 75 minutes, but what the heck.  They're on the other side of 50 now (except the new bass player--who is quite good, by the way); and they're only a couple years older than I am.  So the concert was just about the right length, I think.

The shaggy-dog story about Robert Smith which supplied the wind-up for "Bitchin' Camaro" was pretty darned funny, too.  Joe Jack Talcum was great, I thought.  And I got a kick out of Dean Clean just smiling ear-to-ear the whole set, banging away on the tubs like he was 22 again.

A very fun show.  I'm getting their new album to put next to all the others of theirs which I have.  Too bad it wasn't an all-ages show; I'd have loved to have taken my 15 year-old son.  He would have died laughing.

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