The Dead Milkmen Halloween 2012 Show at Union Transfer
Words and Photos by E A Quinn
Rather than trick or treat for halloween, a mass of punk-rock kids gathered at Union Transfer for The Dead Milkmen show. Opening for one of the funnest ska-punk band to ever come out of Philly was the Psychic Teens and MC Lars.
All these bands encapsulate what it means to be ‘punk.’ Be it in their loud 80s sounds (Psyctic Teens), sampling punk songs(MC Lars) or creating satirical ska music(The Dead Milkmen), the music takes one back to smoking joints behind dumpsters and sticking it to the man. The beauty of these shows is that quick release back to those so-called “glory days” for a few hours. Oh yeah, and it was Halloween, the ultimate chance to dress and act however you want. All these factors combined to create a weird atmosphere full of people who have matured relationships with the music they witnessed.
Prior to the Psychic Teens set, Mr. Dead Guy came out dressed as a skeleton and did his ventriloquist act. The jokes were intentionally cheesy and lewd, the highlight being a chant that went like so:
“…this ones for Pat’s and this ones for Geno’s; eat a falafel, go back to Jersey, you fucking guid0s.”
Being a Halloween show, nothing less should have been expected.
Following the comedic introduction, the Teens started the musical portion of the evening off with their loud, dark, new-wave-ish punk sound. Before the show, someone compared these guys to New Order, a spot-on comparison for about 80% of their tunes. The rest was raw, distorted and loud. The Psychic Teens arguably had the most Halloween-esque set of the night, especially with their finale. During the final song all lights went dark except for a strobe, which the lead guitarist used finish off the song by smashing the light into his guitar repeatedly. Shit was punk rock.
Next up was the not-so-punk rock MC Lars. He opened his set with a Halloween rhyme for the ages:
“Make some noise if you had any candy today; if not, that’s okay, because I got more sweet rhymes.”
Lars is a white dude that raps about things only nerds would understand: Fett’s Vette, Ahab, Tetris, Guitar Hero, etc. His music is cheesy, no doubt. But he can rhyme. And he knows how to work a crowd, if they’re into it. Lots of people went outside during his set to smoke cigs and reminisce about Milkmen encounters in the 90s. The people that stayed were super into MC Lars pop-culture laden rhymes. One cannot help but nod their head and chuckle at the same time while listening and watching Lars bounce around on stage in front of his Mac Book pro and HD projector.
Those who stayed for Lars’ set were treated to an on-stage skank dance contest featuring a dude dressed as a milkman,a Zombie Punk, two dinosaurs and a girl wearing a Cream T-shirt. They all took stage dives to exit. Now that’s gangsta.
But, everyone was there for the true gangsters, the Dead Milkmen. No doubt, this band has a very dedicated following. I met a girl outside with their first album tattooed on her butt. I met a guy who seemed so damn happy to be seeing them play live. These sentiments ran rampant through the Union Transfer.
The Milkmen, ever the satirists, each had their own costumes, the ultimate being the DR. Who-themed drum kit. Obviously having a great time, they played through all the classics: “Big Lizard in My Backyard,” “Life is Shit,” “Punk Rock Girl,” “Stuart,” “If You Love Someone Set Them On Fire,” and the list goes on. Even though Rodney Anonymous proclaimed that noone comes to shows to new songs, the Milkmen played some new tracks to the audience’s delight.
All in all, this a Halloween to remember. It felt like hanging out with your old pals and going through that typical nostalgia. However, this is not nostalgic because the Dead Milkmen are alive, well and still playing with energy. Go see them, it is well worth it.