Kill the Poor

Twenty-nine years ago this week (11/10/79), the Dead Kennedys played the final concert staged at the city’s first punk venue – downtown’s original Skeleton Club on Fourth Avenue, across from Horton Plaza.

Owner Laura Fraser was forced to close the basement-level club due to problems with the hundred-year-old building meeting fire codes. In addition, plainclothes police ticketed patrons for public intoxication, drug possession, weapons violations, lewd behavior, and even for spitting on the sidewalk outside the club, prompting Fraser to allege municipal harassment.

When the Dead Kennedys hit the club’s four-inch-high stage, lead singer Jello Biafra had recently run for mayor of San Francisco, coming in at fourth place. Around 300 patrons paid $3.50 to see the band speed through a set that included “Holiday in Cambodia,” “Kill the Poor,” and “California Über Alles.”

The Skeleton Club reopened on December 7, 1979, at 202 West Market Street, in a locale previously occupied by Climax Limited Disco World.

– Jay Allen Sanford

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