By Justin M. Norton
Suicidal Tendencies concerts have always been a combination of ultimate fighting, self-help seminar run by the Rev. Mike Muir and communal exorcism of bad mojo. If you’ve attended a Suicidal show you’ve likely left bruised or with a split lip but feeling like you could tackle the New York Marathon. Once I got popped on the side of the head, had a cigarette flicked down my shirt and still had a good time. Perhaps the ultimate irony of a band with so many songs about offing yourself is that they can make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside; drop the self-esteem books and head straight for an ST show.
A DVD of the communal bonding experience known as Suicidal Tendencies has been long overdue and we have Live At The Olympic Auditorium arriving in the New Year. ST played the Los Angeles venue before it was converted into a Korean church. Muir delayed back surgery to make the performance for 4,000 fans. Despite the pain, he performed like a manic Bible thumper sporting a doo-rag.
The set list draws heavily from their earlier, best work: “I Shot Reagan,” “Subliminal,” “Suicidal Failure,” “Two-Sided Politics,” I Saw Your Mommy” and “Institutionalized” along with other classics like “Possessed to Skate” and “War Inside My Head.” Everyone has their gripes with set lists – I would have liked “You Can’t Bring Me Down” and “Suicide’s An Alternative” but name a show where you haven’t missed at least one favorite. (It doesn’t matter – I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway).
The DVD sounds crisp and rich. The camera work is lacking, particularly in our high-definition age. The camera favors too many wide-angle shots that showcase the band’s enormous posse. More close-ups and shifting angles would give a better idea of what it was like to attend. Another bummer is the pack of burly bouncers preventing stage dives– a common buzzkill in our litigious world – which contains some of the frenetic energy that’s been a staple of Suicidal shows for three decades.
ST has a long and intriguing history that peaked when onetime bassist Robert Trujillo joined Metallica. The DVD doesn’t have much of the back story outside of short interviews. However, Muir hints in the opening segment that ST is compiling material so hopefully a deluxe box set or other type of DVD presentation is in the works. The history of Suicidal Tendencies runs directly besides the history of American hardcore so there’s a tale worth telling, from their rise from the rough streets of Venice to a degree of stardom with the album “Lights…Camera…Revolution.” Live At The Olympic Auditorium isn’t complete multimedia experience of the band but it’s a powerful performance.
The DVD will be available January 26. Visit www.suicidaltendencies.com