The Dickies – Kings Arms April 26, 2015

DSC_3129It was a gathering of the faithful on this Sunday night in Auckland…the punk rock faithful who turned out to see California’s self-proclaimed bubble gum punk rockers The Dickies at The Kings Arms.

In the grand scheme of things, The Dickies, who formed in 1977, haven’t really made a huge impression on the history of popular music. They don’t get mentioned along with The Ramones, The Sex Pistols or Black Flag or The Germs, perhaps because they never seemed to take themselves too seriously, and so were never taken seriously by others.

But they did turn out some decent records back in the day, many of them hopped up versions of older rock and pop chestnuts such as Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, The Monkees’ She and The Moody Blues’ Nights In White Satin.

And the band did come up with their share of originals, most notably You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla), from their debut album, 1978’s The Incredible Shrinking Dickies.

Now, a billion years later, the band is still at it, led by two founding members, vocalist Leonard Graves Phillips and guitarist Stan Lee.

Last night’s performance found the band rocking harder and louder than their early records would indicate.

The first few songs ripped one into the other, played with plenty of speed and energy. Unfortunately, Phillips’ vocals, while audible, were mostly unintelligible. I had no idea that they had played Nights In White Satin until I peeked at the set list after the show.

The vocals came into focus around the time they launched into Paranoid, and from there it was clear sailing.

Phillips was a riot to watch, his gawky persona a perfect fit for the music as he flailed about the stage arms and legs shooting out in all directions.

And there were plenty of visual aids…a blow up doll, hand puppets a snorkel mask…everything you could want from a punk show.

The regular set clocked in at just under an hour, but they squeezed in 19 songs, with three more for the encore…the instrumental, Rondo, followed by two of their most notorious covers, Led Zeppelin’s Communication Breakdown and The Banana Splits Theme.

After sitting through the likes of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran recently, the pure, unpretentious, punk sounds of The Dickies provided a cleansing of the ears, albeit, ears that are still ringing.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Jeong:

The Dickies Set List:

  1. Rosemary
  2. Fan Mail
  3. Give It Back
  4. I’m Ok, You’re OK
  5. Nights In White Satin
  6. Welcome To The Diamond Mine
  7. Jim Bowie
  8. Got It At The Store
  9. See My Way
  10. Paranoid
  11. Waterslide
  12. Manny, Moe & Jack
  13. She
  14. Poodle Party
  15. You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)
  16. Wagon Train
  17. She’s A Hunchback
  18. If Stuart Could Talk
  19. Gigantor
  20. Rondo (The Midget’s Revenge)
  21. Communication Breakdown
  22. Banana Splits Theme (Tra La La)