[16.6] True Magnetic Poles of Punk Still Standing Tall: Mark Stewart and Jello Biafra

Recently we covered the No One Is Innocent show in Vienna (HERE, or scroll about 8 entries down), an unlikely city to even attempt a chronicle of the Punk movements. The Kunsthalle show managed to bypass nearly all the heavy hitters ( which might have something to do with the still active “punks” having little to do with museums… except perhaps as target practice), and while only covering 3 neatly contained metropolitan ports of rebellion ( London, NY, Berlin) left out quite a few epicenter-nodes of those often vicious and historical clashes with the pop culture factories. Not to mention this distorts what was perhaps Punk’s most notorious weapon, as it was in its most vital forms less to do with some cosmopolitan urban fashion but the rhizomatic rise and DIY fever, where anyone anywhere could pick up on its sound and fury and turn it into one’s own. ( We say “was” because those who are still working in its energy fields have probably shape-shifted into another camouflaged night, leaving titles and brands for the tourists to pick through like the embers of a pagan ritual days later.)

One such wild and fertile garden was in San Francisco, where Jello Biafra and friends sprouted the mutated metal assault of The Dead Kennedys in 1978. Today he celebrates his 5oth Birthday at Great American Music Hall with the Melvins and a posse of left-coast thrashers ( i.e. Billy Gould from KoolArrow) and beyond. Happy Five-O and 30 years of DK and Alternative Tentacles !


Another lightning rod for the expressions of the malcontent is Mark Stewart, who was already slinging Post-punk rocks into the malled crowd before Punk had even gotten out of its safety-pinned diapers, forming the Pop Group that same year in Bristol. He then went on to connect with On-U-Sound in London by 1981 and began releasing projects with a pioneering and ruthless mix of punk, dub, noise-funk, and his off-kilter and puncturing vocals under the banner of Mark Stewart and The Maffia. The original line-up - Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald, and including Adrian Sherwood at the helm, are all back up at the barricades and fully loaded, playing LIVE 2nite at Maria am OstBahnhof in Berlin Mitte, which might be the current home to a few of the crew.



doug wimbish

This foto from the Maria concert: Doug Wimbish of Tackhead, Living Colour, and dozens of other projects… provided that unmistakable pfunk groove that pushed the On-U Maffia sound to the multi-cutting edge and a deconstructed transnational scope.



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