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The Dead Milkmen @ Shank Hall

June 6, 2013

Jun. 7, 2013
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In light of all the old punk rock bands reuniting these days—the competing Black Flag lineups come to mind—playing giant festivals and making mad cash off our nostalgia, I was a little nervous prior to The Dead Milkmen show. Would the Philadelphia veterans just be going through the motions? Were they playing just to make a quick buck? My fears turned out to be baseless. From the moment Rodney Anonymous first bounced across the stage and the band started right into “Tiny Town,” I could tell they were still The Dead Milkmen I’ve loved since I was a teenager.

They played the favorites—“Methodist Coloring Book,” “Beach Party Vietnam” and “Bitchin’ Camaro,” among many others. None of them sounded exactly the way they do on record, which I always take as a good sign—it shows the band is open to reinvention, willing to alter a song depending on their mood. They played “Punk Rock Girl,” and I can say that it was one of my favorite moments at any show I’ve ever attended, pogoing in a dark room with a sea of other people, all of us singing “punk rock girl / you look so wild / punk rock girl / let’s have a child.”

They also played a number of new songs, and it seems like, rather than mellowing with age, they’re actually getting angrier as they get older. That’s not to say they’ve lost their sense of humor, though. One of the most important aspects of The Dead Milkmen has always been that, amidst a multitude of punk bands that take everything—including themselves—so seriously, they manage to get their point across with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, to make fun of the things that oppress us and even to crack jokes about themselves. The crowd had a great time, dancing and laughing and shouting along, and the band looked like they were having a great time, too. They laughed, they bopped around the stage and they put their all into it. They’re not just trying to cash in on punk rock nostalgia. Rather, they’re playing music, old and new, and bringing some fun to the towns they pass through. And they genuinely enjoy doing it.

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