Eaton’s Hill in Brisbane, Queensland was thriving last night with an odd combination of dolled-up squares out for dinner and messy, foul-mouthed but lovable Metalheads already raucously drunk and ready to mosh for one of California’s most long-standing and reputed Thrash bands, Suicidal Tendencies.
Suicidal Tendencies’ return to Australia for Download Festival in Melbourne as well as their headlining sideshows around the country is six years overdue; the last time they thrashed around Down Under was in 2012 with Unwritten Law and The Dudesons. With Slayer’s Dave Lombardo’s expertise on drums and the only original founding member, Mike “Cyco Miko” Muir still nailing it on vocals, Suicidal Tendencies are a wild and engaging act to see onstage. Just earlier this month, Suicidal Tendencies released a smashing new EP called ‘Get Your Fight On!’ and they decided that Australia should be the first country to hear some of the new songs live… And boy was it ever a bloody good night!
When doors opened at 8:00 pm, I noticed that the initial turnout was minimal. But, like I mentioned before, they made up for their sparsity with alcohol and enthusiasm. At 8:30, the first of two supporting acts and a band local to the Gold Coast here in Queensland, Bitter Lungs strolled onstage with a casual and friendly vibe. Upon researching the band before the show I found that they labelled their sound as “metallic Hardcore,” and wondered how exactly their sound was supposed to fit in with the energy that Suicidal Tendencies would surely bring. I can safely say that I and the rest of the slowly building crowd were pleasantly surprised by the break-neck paced riffing and ear-rendering screaming that emitted from the four men on stage. The band knew how to read the room well, with the vocalist yelling between songs, “There’s heaps of room at the bar, make yourselves fucking useful!” and receiving laughter and hooting from the audience. Playing absolute ripper songs like Powered by 9v Batteries and Atheism and 3 AM, Bitter Lungs gave us a great set to start the night.
By 9:15 pm the crowd had swelled to at least half capacity, nullifying my fears that this show would be in disappointingly low attendance. Brisbane’s very own Sludge Metal five-piece took to the stage with grace, punctuality… and a flamboyantly garbed vocalist in a Hawaiian flamingo shirt. Despite the hilarious fashion choice, Evil Eye turned the tempo down and tuned their guitars low to sway the crowd with their sinister but irresistibly groovy riffs. The crowd danced and cheered along to songs like Back Burner and Disobey while their drummer viciously headbanged his way through each song without missing a beat. Their bassist emitted just as must energy as his basslines while he leapt about the stage with high spirits. Despite their slower speed and murkier sound, Evil Eye closed their set with resounding applause and cheers from the satisfied crowd.
After a half hour break and scattered chanting from the now three-quarters full venue, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared as the band we’d all been waiting for bounced up onstage with wide grins, trademark bandanas, snapbacks and guitars cranked up enough to shake the walls. It wasn’t long before the centre of the crowd was a heaving mass of flailing bodies and hair as Suicidal Tendencies stormed about the stage with an uncontainable energy that spilled over into the audience and galvanised everyone into frenzy. With chants of, “You can’t bring me down!” to bring their first song to completion and treating us to bangers like War Inside my Head and I Saw Your Mommy, their 14-song set was pure unrelenting Thrash heaven.
I managed to snag a spot on the floor watching practically from side-stage and it was an absolute pleasure to watch Dean Pleasants execute his effortless light-speed tapping solos, all with a casual smile directed at the wild mosh. Dean Pleasants is a hot-damn musical virtuoso and he knows it. Dave Lombardo wowed us all with his blinding speed and stamina behind his kit, even throwing in a cheeky drum fill from Slayer’s Angel of Death for anyone who noticed. Ra Díaz on bass and Jeff Pogan on rhythm guitar provided plenty of movement and crowd interaction, often leaning forward and standing on speakers to better see their fans as they blew our minds. Mike Muir on vocals was the star of the show, considering he is the last original member and the band’s founder back in 1980. “Cyco Miko” ran, jumped, danced, stomped and yelled his way through the set as he threw his veteran status to the wind with youthful abandon and an impassioned focus that has never dulled with time. Towards the end of the set we were surprised with a brief but sweet onstage marriage proposal that was met with applause and congratulations from the band and spectators.
The highlight of the night was their final song, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow? during which the band took the opportunity to invite almost a third of the venue onstage to sing along and dance and hug the band. Everyone crowded around Dave Lombardo’s kit, of course, and I must say that it was a quite a comical sight to see the majority of the crowd going crazy on the wrong side of the barrier. With a roof-lifting chant of “S.T! S.T! S.T!” the band called it a night. And what a night it was.
Everyone walked away drunk, sweaty, and thoroughly convinced that Suicidal Tendencies had given us far more than we could have ever hoped for. The moshpits were mental, crowdsurfers were plenty and Suicidal Tendencies only cemented themselves in my mind as one of the best veteran acts still rocking the stage today. If you didn’t manage to catch their insane live performance last night or even at Download Festival, you can still book tickets to see them at The Gov in Adelaide on the 26th or at the Capitol in Perth on the 27th of March through Metropolis Touring. Get your tickets and get in the pit!
PHOTOS BY ISABELLE RICKARDS
SEE MORE OF RICKARDS’ WORK HERE!
GET TICKETS FOR THE REMAINING SUICIDAL TENDENCIES SHOWS HERE!