Dead Milkmen, Lawrence Arms, Reaganomics, Holy Mess | Congress Theater | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Dead Milkmen, Lawrence Arms, Reaganomics, Holy Mess Recommended Member Picks Tickets Available All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., April 30, 7:30 p.m. 2011

Listening to The King in Yellow, the first album of new Dead Milkmen material since 1995's Stoney's Extra Stout, is a lot like catching up with one of your cooler, smarter, and funnier friends from high school who managed to grow up without losing all the qualities that made him your friend in the first place. Their jangled guitars, their bitingly witty lyrics, their snotty Philly accents, their playful and iconoclastic version of hardcore—a reminder of a time when it actually had a sense of humor—make it clear what you've been missing in the years since. "Don't trust the happy / The happy are insane / If you see someone smiling / Run! Get away!" advise Rodney Anonymous and Joe Jack Talcum on the chorus of "Meaningless Upbeat Happy Song," between verses about what a still-fucked-up world we're living in. The Dead Milkmen remain best known for "Punk Rock Girl"—a song that became a left-field hit during the pop nadir of the late 80s—but albums like Big Lizard in My Backyard, Eat Your Paisley, Bucky Fellini, and Beelzebubba have held up better than much of the music of that time, both over- and underground. Furthermore, I'm hard-pressed to find a song more prescient than "Right Wing Pigeons." Since the band's re-­formation in 2008, with deceased bassist Dave Blood replaced by Dan Stevens (Joe Jack Talcum's former bandmate in the Low Budgets), they don't play out anywhere near as often as they used to; tonight's show is a rare opportunity to see one of the greats of American punk rock. —Brian Costello

Price: $18

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