Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dead Milkmen / Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA / Nov. 22, 2004

The Dead Milkmen were the first “cool” band I ever liked. They weren’t on the radio or MTV (at least not in 1994, when I first heard them), they sang about stupid shit that a teenager could appreciate, and best of all, they were from Philadelphia. Before I moved out of Philly for college, I thought that the Dead Milkmen were strictly a local phenomenon. Who else would appreciate dinky little pop/punk songs about meeting the love of your life at Zipperhead or a Bensalem girl getting knifed by her prom date or driving down the shore to see a bad Doors cover band? A lot of people, apparently. (This scenario also applies to G. Love, but oh god let us pray that I never end up at a G. Love concert ever again.)

I also thought that I would be the youngest person at this one-off reunion show, which was a benefit for various charities associated with Milkmen bassist Dave Blood, who committed suicide in March. When they broke up in 1995, I was fourteen, and I figured that I was probably the tail end of their fanbase. But then I remembered reading an article in Spin about geek rock that name-checked the Milkmen as founding fathers of the genre. From the looks of the crowd, which was a mixture of old skool Philly scenesters and young folk with mohawks, it seems that they continue to attract punky nerds who like their rock and roll silly and effervescent.

This was my first time seeing the Milkmen live, and though I realize that the circumstances surrounding the reunion were quite tragic, I must say thank you to the band for giving me this opportunity. I waited ten years for this show, and it definitely did not disappoint.

Rodney Anonymous looks like a macho hardcore dude—I never knew! I mean, I KNOW he’s not a macho hardcore dude, but he sure looked like one up there, with his bald head, Front Line Assembly shirt, menacing demeanor and stalking back and forth across the stage. Of course, he was shouting about lizards and coloring books and banana peels, not smashing the state or whatever macho hardcore dudes shout about.

They played for an hour and a half straight, with very little space between songs. The fill-in bassist, some dude from Joe Genaro’s other band the Low Budgets, did a good job of staying out of the way. There was a mosh pit, and a guy who looked like he was at least in his mid-‘30s stage dove during “Bitchin’ Camaro.” Rodney used the introduction to that song to talk about Dave Blood, and gave a heartfelt memorial that was as funny as it was sad. But what are the Dead Milkmen without humor, right?

At the end of the night, members of all the opening bands came out for a cacophonous version of “Big Time Operator.” My friend Sara said, “It’s like the Philly Rock and Roll Hall of Fame up there!” It made me so happy and proud to see that. Philadelphians are rarely supportive of one another, particularly in the rock scene. That’s definitely part of the reason why cool, successful Philly bands are so few and far between. And another reason why the Dead Milkmen were so special.

Once again, if you want to read my Inquirer-fied version of what happened, click here. Or read Sara’s account here.