If you skateboarded in the `80s or early `90s it’s likely that Suicidal Tendencies was the soundtrack to your summers. I didn’t skateboard, but my friends did and although I hadn’t thought much about Suicidal since high school the announcement of Mike Muir’s latest lineup playing Amos’ Friday brought back a flood of junior high memories especially once I looked back at the track listings of those early albums.
The crass “I Saw Your Mommy” I’m almost certain played at a seventh grade birthday party (along with Gwar’s “I’m in Love with a Dead Dog"). I picture us sitting in the driveway watching six boys on skateboards approach a ramp with little success over and over (the time wasted!) as “Institutionalized” and “You Can’t Bring Me Down” crackled from a boom box.
I remember hearing “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow” in my high school boyfriend’s blue Chevette. I never owned any of the albums myself. I had Muir and Rob Trujillo’s funk side project Infectious Grooves. No one else had seemed to have a copy of that, but everyone had Suicidal records.
I'm guessing Suicidal Tendencies made it into my orbit before bands that predated it because they weren’t only a skate culture fixture. Their videos played on MTV before thrashers like Metallica. I remember watching “Institutionalized” (which I know now starred Jack Nance of “Twin Peaks” and “Blue Velvet” and “Rock n’ Roll High School’s” Mary Woronov as Muir’s parents).
Muir had a way with capturing youthful angst. While broaching serious subjects like sanity, he delivered lines with a sense of humor which made it all the more kid-friendly.
D.R.I., who is also on the bill Friday, was staple of the skatepunk set too. I don’t remember actually hearing its music as much as seeing the poster forever glued to my other ex-boyfriend’s bedroom wall. I think that same poster hung over the kitchen table in our college apartment.
That same group of friends, who still live in Southern West Virginia, were some of the first to buy tickets to Friday’s show. A party of 8 or more, including my friend's grown daughter and her boyfriend, will make the three hour trek. It’s never new bands that draw those old friends to Charlotte. Me and that Chevette driving ex recently discussed my friends being musically stuck in high school. I started making a few of them mixes every Christmas just to expose them to something new.
Suicidal Tendencies is making new music. The new album “13” is the first in as many years. I think we’re all guilty of returning to old favorites though. I’m amazed by the number of `80s and `90s artists that my children are fans of. They dig newer groups like the Knux and Iamdynamite, but are currently on a Billy Idol kick. I simply expose them to music - apparently a lot of `80s and `90s music - and see what sticks. For my friends what stuck was obviously the thrash-punk soundtrack to those misspent teenage years.