I grew up in Connecticut during the eighties. Although I followed the Grateful Dead I was a humungous hardcore fan. The genres has similarities. The unknown path of musical improvisation can be compared to the utter chaos that takes place inside the pit of a hardcore show. Although I have rarely listened to hardcore in years my interest was piqued when I learned Suicidal Tendencies was going to play The Republik in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Back in Connecticut the hardcore scene revolved around an all ages venue, The Anthrax. The Anthrax supported local bands but also hosted EVERY national and international band of any importance. GBH, Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front, Black Flag, Fugazi, everyone played The Anthrax. The crowd was tough. Punks in New York – New Jersey - Connecticut were some of the toughest. The only punk band/scene that gained any respect on the East Coast revolved around Suicidal Tendencies.
The band was formed in Venice, California in 1980. The group’s leader from the beginning was vocalist Mike Muir. Suicidal Tendencies specialized in vicious hardcore built around the local skate culture. In the beginning it has difficult for the band to gig because of its members rumored gang affiliation and the violence at the gigs. By 1983 the band was signed and released their self-titled album featuring “Institutionalized.” The band has since released thirteen albums, been accused of selling out due to a shift towards thrash metal, and passed through thirty two different band members.
With a mix of young skaters/surfers and grizzled hardcore veterans, the show started off with Rotting Out, a hardcore band that formed in 2007 from San Pedro, California. In 2016 vocalist Walter Delgado was arrested for transporting 700 lbs. of marijuana. After being released in November 2017 the band reformed. These guys were fierce and put on a great set that had fans moving and started building up the intensity level of the evening. Definitely worth it for the fans arriving early to catch their set.
Between sets it was obvious the audience was hyped. The capacity crowd was packed towards the front of the venue anticipating the bands arrival and the chaos that would soon ensue. One by one members of the band stepped out onto the stage led by Mike Muir (vocals), Dean Pleasants (guitar), Ra Diaz (bass), Ben Wineman (guitar), and Dave Lombardo; cofounding member of Slayer (drums).
“You Can’t Bring Me Down” started off the set. A tasty guitar solo followed by a slow intro progressed into the songs insane tempo. Muir whipped around the stage like someone half his age. The crowd was hyped and quickly ignited. Immediately a pit opened and a continuous volley of surfers began flowing over the barrier. The band continued their fury tearing through the classics “Clap Like Ozzy,” “Freedumb,” and “War Inside My Head.” The explosiveness of the band was amazing. You think you are ready for them but you are not. It’s as though the band has gathered the best parts of punk, thrash metal, and funk and thrown it into a blender creating a knock out cocktail.
During the second half of the show, fans were invited onstage. The band gave these fans a lesson in hardcore, tearing through “Send Me Your Money,” “Lovely,” and “Possessed To Skate.” The pioneers of crossover thrash exited the stage only to be called back by the crowd’s chants of S! T! Again fans were invited onstage. There was nary an inch of space but the band managed to find room and burst into “Pledge Your Allegiance.” The Republik fell into pandemonium. The pits size and intensity increased as well as the number of stage divers and crowd surfers. As the show ended, selfies, high fives, and hugs were given to the band.
It seems as though this group is experiencing a new lease on life. Although the band and the crowd have aged Suicidal Tendencies are still a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the spring and summer they will be appearing at a number of festivals. Don’t miss these hardcore veterans!
You Can’t Bring Me Down / I Shot Reagan / Lost Again / Clap Like Ozzy / Freedumb / Trip At The Brain / War Inside My Head / Subliminal / Send Me Your Money / Lovely / Possessed To Skate / I Saw Your Mommy / Cyco Vision / How Will I Laugh / Pledge