Roughly nine years ago, I took a trip from Flagstaff to Lake Havasu to see one of my favorite bands, the Suicide Machines, play a show with the Blue Meanies and the Aquabats.
The show, quite simply, was amazing. The Machines played on the stage of an old movie theatre while the re-release of the first Star Wars played behind them. Kids who had been fighting prior to the Machines coming on were told by the band to chill the fuck out and come together to enjoy the show. I danced my ass off with friends and left that night with the feeling that I had experienced the perfect punk show.
Several years have passed since that show. I’m old -- by audience standards (29!), I’m fat -- by health standards (260!) and a lot of shit has changed throughout the years. However, one thing has remained constant: I still fucking love the Suicide Machines and have always made an effort to catch them when they come to LA. Fortunately for me, the Machines came to L.A. this past weekend to play a show at the Troubador with Bullets to Broadway and Lost City Angels.
I’ll keep my review of the opening bands very short. Prior to this show, I had never listened to or seen Bullets To Broadway or the Lost City Angels. I thought both bands were great though, as they both brought great energy to the show and played strong sets. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t seen them to check them out, and I actually wouldn’t mind picking up their respective discs.
With the opening acts having completed their sets, the Suicide Machines were set to come on. Anyone who has been to the Troubador knows that there really isn’t a dramatic entrance, just a simple filing down from the stairs before the start of some music. True to form, the Machines came down the stairs, said a few simple words and opened with "Break The Glass." I recently read in an article that Jay was quoted as saying that he’s tired of playing that song and would much rather retire it. While I can understand that, I hope they never do, as "BTG" seems to open shows perfectly and remains one of my all-time favorite songs.
From there, the band proceeded to rattle off several other classics from Destruction By Definition and Battle Hymns, including “Hey” (I haven’t heard them play that in years), “New Girl,” “SOS,” “No Face,” “DDT,” “Someone” and a list of others. Several songs were played off of A Match And Some Gasoline and the band introduced a few new songs from War Profiteering Is Killing Us All as well, including “Capitalist Suicide” and “War Profiteering.”
True to TSM style, the performance, energy and music that night was amazing. The band sounded great, the crowd went off and the Troubador shook with kids singing along to songs that seem to resonate even after years and years have passed.
As for me, well, my fat ass danced, skanked, somersaulted and skanked some more until I thought I was going to puke from exhaustion. I sang along to old songs that mattered to me when I was 21 and still matter to me at 29, and sang along to new songs that I can only hope matter as much to me at 40 as they do now.
A few years back I recall someone asking me whether I was “too old” to still be going to punk shows. I responded that music was music and wondered why, as people grow older, do they frown on punk shows but find it acceptable to see a Top 40 band or go to some radio fest where each member of the crowd knows one or two popular songs from a band the radio and their friends tell them to love.
The answer is easy. They don’t know what we experience at punk shows. They can’t comprehend what it’s like to pay 15 bucks to see your favorite band, say hello to them at the merch table and then sing along to every one of their fucking songs with 300 other kids who all know and love the same lyrics.
As I left the Troubador on Saturday night, I couldn’t help but smile. I had witnessed the perfect punk show again and the Suicide Machines reminded me why I keep coming back. Thanks guys.