There are few things sillier than punk nostalgia--slam-dancing and stage-diving in 1990 can appear as ludicrous as Nehru jackets or leisure suits, and at least the last two have some camp value. Punk nostalgia is just the sort of thing you'd hope the Dead Milkmen--the Philadelphia-based kings of snot-rock--would mock, especially when it happens at one of their own concerts, as it did Tuesday at the Roxy.
No such luck. The quartet (which also plays Bogart's in Long Beach tonight) pretty much let the revel go on without comment. Which is too bad, because for all the juvenile nature of its wit and all its easy targets (religion, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor) the Milkmen showed enough true cleverness, intelligence and talent Tuesday to rise above the mindlessness of the proceedings. After all, these guys have enough style to call this their "Fear of a Beige Planet" tour.
Proof positive came in singer Rodney Anonymous' funny and effective anti-censorship speech, in which he suggested that people send nude Polaroids of themselves to Sen. Jesse Helms ("Naked people are not dangerous," he had the audience chant). But just one little quip directed at the audience would have been of equal value. You wouldn't think the Milkmen would be the kind of guys who were afraid to bite the hand that feeds them, would you?