When retrospective eyes are cast back over early Eighties North American Hardcore, L.A.’s Suicidal Tendencies are usually given short thrift. Sure, as the years rolled by, and they forged a career out of it, their sound became increasingly focused on commercial success, and was a world apart from their humble Venice Beach beginnings. But what a beginning it was; Suicidal really were in there with the ‘name’ Hardcore pioneers, and their influence was huge. I remember first seeing a photo of them in a ‘zine (back in ’84) and being captivated – the flip top painter caps, bandannas, buttoned up plaid shirts, skate sneakers… it was a ‘look’ that took Europe by storm. I can think of at least one German band whose whole shtick was pretty much being ‘Suicidal’… yah!
So yeah, ST is a band who came with a big bad reputation – they were even banned from playing in the own city for a number years! I met a girl from L.A. in the mid Eighties whilst traveling who regaled me with tales of seeing ST and how insane it was, and I guess many us first got to see a glimpse of this on the Flipside # 3 Video Compilation, where they tore through “I Saw Your Mommy” and “Suicidal Failure” to a massive stage diving crowd.
Well, almost 20 years later, the atmosphere at the Olympic Auditorium, for the filming of this gig (shot in 2005) is nowhere near as raw and chaotic, but, with singer Mike Muir still firmly at the helm of a real tight band, there is no denying the power of the music, and the adoration and enthusiasm from a rabid audience who are most definitely Suicidal 4 Life!
As a message of intent they open with the epic “I Shot Reagan”, and, as the set develops, at least 50% of the material is from their first album – OG Heaven! I mean, c’mon – “Institutionalized” is easily one of the benchmark US Hardcore songs, Pepsi Cola and all! The Olympic was home to many, many big L.A. punk shows in the Eighties, but this ST set is the final gig there, as we learn it’s being taken over by a Korean-American religious group, which doesn’t escape Mike’s attention… and makes the reprise of “Send Me Your Money“, a rip at TV Evangelists, that much more poignant. And when didn’t “Possessed to Skate” make you wanna grab a stick, drain a pool, and fuck shit up… jeez, even next doors pond is looking tempting!!
Yes, enjoyed this DVD, and hopefully ST will return to these shores soon for some club show… in the meantime… “Let’s Skate”!!!