Yidcore makes a comeback

Punk rock band Yidcore.

YIDCORE, the Australian Jewish punk rock band established in Melbourne in 1998 which disbanded in 2009, is reuniting for a concert at the inaugural Festival of Jewish Arts and Music (FOJAM) to be held at the Melbourne Recital Centre next month.

Yidcore enjoyed worldwide success, released five albums and performed around Australia and overseas, including three tours of Israel between 2003 and 2008, tapping into the rebellious spirit of Jewish punk with their covers of popular songs.

There has been a previous reunion concert – in 2011 Yidcore co-founders Bram Presser and Myki Slonim, along with drummer Rory Kelaart and bassist Dave Jesudason, performed at The Arthouse.

Members of Yidcore being interviewed on Israeli radio during their 2005 tour.

“Myki and I were friends at Mount Scopus College and we were there from the beginning to the end, but the line-up changed regularly over the years,” Presser told The AJN.

“Rory Kelaart and Dave Jesudason joined later and was with us when the band played its final show in 2009 and will be with us for the FOJAM concert.”

It was at an AUJS revue in 1998 that Yidcore burst onto the music scene.

“It was something that we thought would be fun to do for one night and it took off from there – it was great fun and silliness and we never anticipated how big it would become,” said Presser, who was at university at the time.

“At the AUJS revue we did punk covers of the songs we had sung at school camps and youth camps and even included punk versions of some prayers.”

Yidcore quickly gained a cult following in Melbourne, interstate and overseas with its exuberant punk sound. 

The band’s mascot was a rubber chicken named Scrambles which was tied to Presser’s microphone stand during concerts, but at Yidcore’s final concert it was decapitated.

“Unfortunately Scrambles won’t be attending the reunion concert because he is in pieces and his head is currently mounted on a board at the Jewish Museum,” said Presser.

One of the songs that Yidcore will perform at FOJAM on September 8 is Why Won’t Adam Sandler Let Us Do His Song? which is part of a long-running saga involving the Hollywood star and his Chanukah song.

“We covered The Chanukah Song and then Sandler would not let us release it,” Presser explained. “Then he released a version with half of our lyrics, so then we released it with a video clip of Sandler portraying him as the villain.

“It turned out to be a launch pad for us – what we thought was the end of our careers when he said ‘No’ turned out to be a nice trampoline moment for us.” 

Yidcore will concentrate on cover versions of Jewish favourites at the concert.

“Being a festival we are doing a short set and will rip through as many songs as we can and remind people what it was like to desecrate them and even splatter them with some hummus and kiddish wine!”

With rehearsals under way, group members can reflect on their career path since the break-up.

Presser is a lawyer who has taken time off to concentrate on writing following the 2017 publication of his novel, The Book of Dirt, set around his grandfather, Jakub Rand (also known as Jack Randa) who survived the Holocaust. 

The book has won literary awards including the $40,000 Christina Stead Prize for fiction at the 2018 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and a prize at the American National Jewish Book Awards.

“Myki is a publisher and marketer, Dave has become a native title lawyer in Townsville and Rory is the drummer of a big punk band called Outright,” said Presser.

Yidcore is not hanging up its boots at FOJAM – the band will perform a concert featuring hits from its albums on September 26 at North Melbourne’s The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar.

FOJAM, which replaces Shir Madness Melbourne, features more than 140 local and international artists covering music, dance, theatre, film and installations.

FOJAM is at the Melbourne Recital Centre on September 8 from 11am to 11pm. Yidcore performs at 9.30pm. Bookings: fojam.com.

DANNY GOCS