The sign above the windshield of their bus said "Nobody You Know," but the sellout crowd at the 9:30 club Wednesday night knew just who they were, and loved them for it. These Dead Milkmen were the same guys who five years ago made their name as the new spitball kids on the indie-rock block with such songs as "Ringo Buys a Rifle." While the size of the bus has grown, the song remains the same; Ramones-ish bar chords mixed with limp funk topped with Rodney Anonymous's wisecracking shouts taking on such pop icons as Duran Duran, Yes, George Michael, Sting and Charles Nelson Reilly. The one time the recipe varied, on the relatively contemplative "Dollar Signs in Her Eyes," sung by guitarist Jasper Thread, they seemed afraid of their near-seriousness and played it with Muzak-like camp.
The band tried hard to maintain its sloppy frat-party demeanor, despite each member's obvious musical talent, and judging from the crowd's response, it was the tack to take. The old favorite "Punk Rock Girl" drew the biggest response, but it seemed quaint next to the recent not-clever-enough songs "If You Love Somebody Set Them on Fire" and "Do the Brown Nose." It's healthy to not take the music business or its stars too seriously, but one song after another based on sophomoric one-liners grows old fast.