Suicidal Tendencies 11/12/10
9:30 Club – Washington D.C.
Words/Photos by jjp3rd
Some 22 or 23 years ago, I saw Suicidal Tendencies at the old 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., and it was a great show…. Last night, I saw them again, at the “new” 9:30 Club, in a different location in D.C. Once again, a great show.
Despite the years that have passed, the band displayed a high level of energy and an intensity on par with the group I saw 20-some years ago (though my recollection of that particular evening and the years that buffer it are somewhat cloudy). Last night’s crowd ranged in age from kids to adults, with several obvious pairs of multi-generational ST fans sharing the experience. They came to the show expecting to be rocked, and it is safe to assume that everyone left satisfied.
The show opened with a blistering rendition of “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and then into the seminal “Institutionalized,” which whipped the fans into a frenzy. Cyco Miko was a constant force in motion, moving with a frenetic energy that matched the audio electricity pulsing from the soundsystem. Seldom did he stand in one place for longer than 30 seconds during a song, and his movements added a visual enhancement to the driving sounds of his instrumentalists as they burned through their performance.
The setlist did not disappoint, with a mix spanning several decades,and several bands–including material from the new CD No Mercy Fool/Suicidal Family, a mix of tunes from No Mercy, a band of which Mike Clark and Mike Muir were members in the 80’s. “Pledge Your Allegiance,” “Suicidal Maniac,” “War Inside My Head,” “Join the Army” and “Cyco Vision” were among the crowd favorites, and Mike Muir masterfully made the people a part of the performance, including them in songs with lyrical call and answers.
One of the best facets of ST’s music, in my opinion, is their lyrics. Many of their songs speak to self-accountability, believing in oneself, and following one’s own path. Cyco Miko gave several short sermon-like speeches centered on these themes as he segued into songs, sending a signal that Suicidal Tendencies will continue to maintain its singular niche in skate/thrash/punk/metal.
Of course, some songs feature lyrics that are not as inspirational as others (some might even find them offensive), but they are no less impactful, as they speak to the inner turmoil and angst that is most often attributed to teenagers, but in reality manifests itself in all people, including those who never quite grow beyond the insecurities of youth, and others who find that adulthood brings an entirely new set of challenges, judgements and bullies.
Back to the show–Mike Clark and Dean Pleasants on guitars (playing matching Fernandes axes that really sounded awesome) alternated playing great solos and solid, crunching chords while Eric Moore, the new drummer matched up with Steve Brunner to lay down a rock-solid, funk-influenced rhythm section. These guys are excellent musicians.
As previously mentioned, the crowd was an active participant in this affair, whether it was the mosh pit that I successfully avoided, or the 25% or more of the crowd singing in unison virtually every lyric that spewed from Mike Muir’s lips. But that’s not all…for the finale (during “Join The Army”), Mike and the band called everyone up on stage, and as a result they were joined onstage by a bunch of people for the last part of the song. Many folks leapt the barrier in front of the stage and were pulled onstage by members of the band. Things got a little dicey as at one point in the finale, the on-stage crowd (many pogo-ing, most good-naturedly pushing each other) caused a guitar player to stop playing for a few seconds, and also almost crushed the drum kit. Order was quickly restored, however, and some of the band retreated behind the drums to finish out the song.
After the show, Mike posed for photos with fans and also signed autographs onstage (did not see if other bandmembers also did this, sorry). The only thing missing from this show was about another 30 minutes of music; it was an early show, with ST hitting the stage at about 7:45 p.m., and finishing at around 9:00 p.m. Believe me, at 43 years-old, a show ending at such an hour is an awesome thing for me, especially with a 1.5 hour return drive home, but another 5-8 songs would have made this the perfect show.