The first song was scuttled by a terrible mix with singer Leonard Graves Phillips inaudible for its duration, but the sound was repaired by the second number. Thank goodness. I suspect Phillips had some monitor problems since he sang the whole show with his finger in his ear, but any issues I had with hearing him were tabled. It sounded fine. Which was important since I was crossing another band off of my bucket list and that doesn’t happen every day!
Any trepidation at the back of my mind about two guys even older than me leading a punk band evaporated immediately as The Dickies were not your ordinary punk band. First of all, their goal is to be funny; goofy even. While playing incredibly fast. This they still do as effectively as when… when before the other three gents to the right side of the photo above were probably born. The indelible classics were rolling off the stage as fast as an assembly line stuck in high gear.
The 80 second songs I had waited 39 years to finally hear live were amazing. The obnoxious props and puppets I’d read about were… still there. Both of these threads united when, be still my beating heart, the band tore into the fast and stoopid classic “Poodle Party” complete with a dog’s head puppet from Phillips, who had the puppet lip synching the song to the audience. It was a blitzkrieg of fun. As with The Queers, a mosh pit happened up front not too far into the mayhem. The only downside was one woman in the frontline shaking/crushing a tallboy can of PBR over her head; thus spraying us with tiny droplets of [ugh!] beer! Well, it beat the dreaded open plastic cup of beer being spilled by any means.
The speedpunk tritone classic “You Drive Me Ape [You Big Gorilla]” had Phillips donning the same plastic ape mask the DEVO wore in their “Secret Agent Man” video. He really had the rotating parade of cheesy props down to a science by now. Scuba mask and inflatable “date” for “Waterslide.” The infamous penis puppet for “If Stuart Could Talk.” Thank goodness that last one was actually cute. Well… as cute as a penis puppet could ever be. Having heard about it, I had much darker visions.
The insane 90 mph cover versions were coming through loud and clear! Black Sabbath’s protopunk “Paranoid” was never an embarrassment, but speed it up by at least 40% and it’s even better! How I loved adding backing harmony vocals to their reanimation of the previously turgid “Nights In White Satin.” This was finally happening 20 feet in front of me. It’s my happening and I’m freaking out! They performed almost half of “Incredible Shrinking Dickies” but the sophomore album also got some love. “Fan Mail” and the brilliant ode to the Pep Boys, “Manny, Moe + Jack,” was a true highlight. I can never tire of “(I’m Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota.” The song has now outlasted the L.A. TV news anchor who’s the subject of their ardor in the song by about 20 years, I’m guessing. A hundred years from now no one will know about her, but I’ll bet The Dickies will still be remembered by malcontent misfits of the future.
About a third of their set was material I was not familiar with; not having the post A+M albums except for “Second Coming,” from which they played …nothing. I recognized their ode to the Toxic Avenger from the 90s, and there were a few new songs introduced into the set that Phillips duly noted in his introductions. “I Hate Punk Rock” sounds like a stone cold classic to these ears.
The five piece unit performed the songs exceptionally well. We quickly came to understand what the drummer for The Queers was implying since Adam Gomez, The Dickies drummer, walked onstage in a crisp white dress shirt with suspenders and a bow tie. He looked like he was ready for a jazz set, but effortlessly powered a fast paced [and how] punk rock show. Without breaking a sweat from the look of it. I had learned ages ago that the best drummers could power any show without expending needless energy and make it all look easy. Mr. Gomez was one of those stone cold drummers that any band would give its metaphoric right arm for.
The band blistered through their set and broke for a brief spell before the encore beckoned. What would we hear first? I had been hoping for “Where Did His Eye Go;” their skewed ode to Sammy Davis Jr., but chasinvictoria had opined that he’d be up for “Rondo [The Midget’s Revenge]” as we had entered the club. I didn’t think we’d hear that astonishingly long 3:12 near-Prog instrumental opus at what was clearly going to be a punk rock show… but I was wrong! That’s exactly what they returned to the stage with to our astonished delight. Then, the next song could have only been the yellow colored elephant in the room. Yes, I could die and go to heaven now. The sugar-frosted amphetamine buzz of “Banana Splits” brought down the house this night. I had reserved energy to pogo furiously during this song [thus attaining nirvana] but the fact was that it was impossible to pogo fast enough to be on beat for this one. Then it was all over, and we left sated that we had seen The Dickies 39 years later, and it was still fantastic. There are still a few dates with The Queers in America in the next few days, with the next several months seeing the band hit the shores of Europe for some 40th Anniversary quality time. Miss them only if you hate punk velocity, irreverence, with stoopidity and clever wit in roughly equal amounts.
The Dickies | 40th Anniversary World Tour | 2018
JUN 13 | The Kingsland | Brooklyn, NY
JUN 14 | Middle East | Cambridge, MA
JUN 15 | The Loft | Poughkeepsie, NY
JUN 16 | Voltage Lounge | Philadelphia, PA
JUN 21 | O2 Academy | Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
JUN 23 | House Of Blues | Anaheim, CA
JUN 30 | Mosswood Park | Oakland, CA
JUL 18 | The Fleece | Bristol, UK
JUL 19 | The Hairy Dog | Derby, UK
JUL 20 | Underworld Camden | London, UK
JUL 21 | O2 Academy 2 Newcastle | Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
JUL 22 | Brudenell Social Club | Leeds, UK
JUL 24 | Hafenklang | Hamburg, GER
JUL 28 | Goldmark’s | Stuttgart, GER
JUL 29 | Sedel Luzern 6 | Switzerland
AUG 02 | SECRET PLACE | St. Jean De Vedas, FRANCE
AUG 04 | Lewes Con Club | Lewes, UK
AUG 06 | Robin 2 | Wolverhampton, UK
SEP 08 | Whisky A-Go-Go | West Hollywood, CA
SEP 28 | Marty’s On Newport | Tustin, CA
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