Live Review: JELLO BIAFRA 9-19-97
Education 2000 Bookstore, Long Beach, CA
by Lob


Litterally added at the last moment, the Long Beach spoken word festival "When Words Collide", announced former punk rock vocalist / spoken word artist JELLO BIAFRA would be gracing thier ongoings...i was excited. As the day approached news was hard to come by, with things being booked at the last moment, seriously word of mouth was the only real promotion this kind of gig could get.. and it did..word got out.. and nearly 350 of us gathered in Long Beach to hear Jello tell his stories...the show billed to start at 9pm, started late..as most readings do..so i was not surprized.. some others in the audinece were sorta frustrated by this.. but they suffered thru it easily.. at about 9:40 pm Long Beach spoken word artist T. THRASHER started the show by saying hullo, welcoming us to "When Words Collide" and reading a piece of his own as the evenings sacrifical lamb.. and we were off.. first up, the opening act, L.A. word slinger JACK BREWER, vocalist for the group SACCARINE TRUST. This was my first time seeing him read. His style was remincsent of a mid-life Ginsberg, with alot of the L.A./Jim Morrison performance style thrown in.. words were will put together and sometimes humorous, but it was not what this crowd was looking for.. they wanted a ranter not a performance poet..and his set lagged in gathering momentum and enthusiam from the crowd.. he is better with a band behind him in my opinion.. after Jack's 15 minute set.. came what we all came to see.. JELLO BIAFRA took the stage space wearing a bright gold vest and informing us he got it at Salvation Army.. he tested the levels of his clip on microphone, he seemed quite comfortable .. and so we began.. his first piece of the evening was a piece from one of his CD's called "Suggestions for the New President".. which went over very well .. . with lots of recognition.. and that in my opinion set the tone of this "performance", which was what it was...much more so than a "reading".. Jello did a LARGE ammount of "hits" (meaning well heard and known pieces from his spoken word releases) including "Buy More Stuff", "Names For Bands", "Orgasm", and even an old DEAD KENNEDY'S number, "D.M.S.O." with snapping fingers for a beat.. there was SOME new stuff.. he did an old piece called "Why I'm Glad The Space Shuttle Blew Up" and added a twist to it about the upcoming NASA Casini Slingshot Probe.. which was quite alarming and scary.. he also did a new commentary piece about the plight of USA political prisoner MUMIA ABU-JAMAL.. and also a new piece called "Wake Up & Smell The Noise" which he dedicated to the late Nor Cal political activist, Judi Bari...all of his newer pieces really lacked that tounge-in-cheek satire that Biafra is well known for.. and were very much straight up commentary and scary stuff to hear too.. his performance style reminded me of like if Will Rogers had been a punk instead of a cowboy.. but well rehearsed and edited works.. too clean and too much of a greatest hits reading.. quite the politician... besides the 2 new pieces his opinion on current events were rather minimal.. he said a few words about his view on the 90's Punk Explosion, but passed by it quickly and without any real intrest...finnally he announced that he was done and thanks for coming.. i asked Doc Monk what time it was and was told 1 AM.. long winded dude that Jello.. he nearly spoke for 3 hours.. and looked like he could continue if he wanted. A VERY entertaining evening...if you are unfamilliar with Biafra's spoken works, i suggest checking them out,.. he has 3 TRIPLE CD's available on Alternative Tentacles Records. Congrats to "When Words Collide" for bringing him to So Cal for this event..