Inspiring punk bands who use pop melodies, rather than the sort who play pop punk, LA’s the Dickies were one of a few bands who can be credited for creating the blue print which The Clash, Green Day, Billy Idol and Adam and the Ants (amongst others) would ultimately use for considerable global success. Combining intensity with cartoon humour, and buzzsaw guitars with well-conceived, satirical, lyrics, the Dickies were able to use ‘dumb’ messages (and their punk image) to keep the real meaning of their songs subverted and hidden from the old guard. They were never on a mission to sell millions of records; they were on a mission to inspire future generations.
Whilst never burnt by the success of others, it must surely have been interesting for the Dickies to watch the success of their followers; some of whom perhaps never hit the same comedic highs, or played shows with the same intensity.
Whatever their impact on the wider musical world, judging by the crowd at the Academy, it’s clear that they managed to achieve their primary objective of inspiring others. Tracks are attacked with a spirit hard to imagine for any band, let alone one who have played hundreds of shows over the years to punk’s faithful, and gives the impression that the show clearly has more meaning to the band than just turning up, playing hard and going home; this is about provoking their crowd into questioning everything, including their own work and actions.
The result of this combination is an up tempo, truthful, relentless live show delivered with secret ironies and hidden meanings; it’s a style which subverts core news-worthy messages into ‘just’ entertainment. You can hear it all through standout tracks like ‘Banana Splits’, ‘Waterslide’ and ‘Manny, Moe and Jack’. Whilst other bands will be remembered for the millions of records they sold, the Dickies will be remembered for their live shows and the inspiration they provided.