“There’s always room for Jell-O,” right? That’s what Eric Boucher hoped in 1979 when he adopted that ad slogan to help spread the word in his bid for mayor of San Francisco. This happened during the tragic Harvey Milk era. After Dianne Feinstein completed mayor George Moscone’s remaining term (both he and Milk were shot to death by Dan White), she ran for reelection in 1979 against a field that included Boucher, who was running as Jello Biafra, the stage name he dreamed up for himself when he and East Bay Ray formed a band called the Dead Kennedys a year earlier. In the end, San Francisco voters decided that there was no room for Jello after all, but one has to wonder how things might have shaken out in the state’s financial capital if he’d won.
The band had an image problem from day one. It was that name, and they pushed it with songs like “Too Drunk to Fuck” and “I Kill Children” and sexually explicit album art. They pushed it all the way to an obscenity trial that pretty much ended the original version of the Dead Kennedys in 1986.
It turns out Jello Biafra would never patch things up with his ex-bandmates, even after they started playing reunion shows years later with different members. As of August, the Dead Kennedys are D.H. Peligro and East Bay Ray, with Greg Reeves filling in for Klaus Flouride and Skip McSkipster in the role of front man. So, what’s left of the hardcore miscreants that took political shots at the Reagan White House, filtered Brit punk with American thrash punk (thereby inventing West Coast punk) who left behind a giant influence on generations of future garage rockers and post-punks? This: two original members, one hell of a set list, and the wherewithal to play it loud and fast.
DEAD KENNEDYS: House of Blues, Thursday, December 2, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $16.