Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Dickies at the Bowery Electric

Leonard Graves Phillips with hand puppet
Inspired by the first wave of punk coming out of New York and London, the Dickies formed in 1977 in Los Angeles, California. Within a few weeks, the Dickies played the small but growing local punk circuit and quickly earned a following with their zany live show, which featured costumes, puppets, and parodies of classic rock and cartoon theme songs. The Dickies became the first L.A. punk band to score a major-label deal in 1978 and may be the oldest surviving punk band still recording new material, albeit sporadically; the band's most recent album, All This and Puppet Stew, was released in 2001. The band's present line-up consists of two original members, vocalist Leonard Graves Phillips and guitarist Stan Lee, with guitarist Little Dave Teague, bassist Edward Tatar and drummer Adam Gomez.

The Dickies' sense of humor was alive at the Bowery Electric tonight. The pop-punk band played a wall-of-sound at blur-speed, while the cartoon-voiced lead singer peppered the fast-paced show with silly cover song, goofy hand puppets and other humorous props. The 50-minute set was packed with mostly original blitz rockers. When the band played Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" at neck-snapping velocity, was Phillips really singing lyrics or was he simply singing "fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa" along with the melody? With the instruments booming, it was hard to tell. The band also covered the Who's "See Me, Feel Me," another opportunity to transform an arena-rock anthem to pop culture camp. The Dickies got away with these stage antics. Maybe it is the ever-present, overarching spirit of lightweight fun that has kept the band and its audiences vibrant for 37 years. The Dickies may well retain the title as the clown princes of punk.

Visit the Dickies at