Suicidal Tendencies/Madball - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Suicidal Tendencies / Madball

Live in Grand Rapids (2016)

live show

Wife and kids? Check. Good job with benefits? Check. House in the suburbs? Check. Suicidal for life? Check.

I was probably way more excited than a man approaching middle aged should be to see Suicidal Tendencies and Madball. It had been about 15 years (20 for Madball) since ST had played in Grand Rapids. The last time Suicidal was in town they opened for Insane Clown Posse, believe it or not. (Yes, I was at that show, but I got the tickets for free. No, I’m not a fucking Juggalo.) This show was shaping up to be the social event of the season for 40 year old punks and headbangers. These types of high expectations often seem to lead to bitter disappointment. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at The Intersection in downtown GR on Friday October 21st.

The only real disappointment was that Colorado based retro thrashers Havok had dropped off the tour. I’d been meaning to check them out and was looking forward to seeing them. Local metal band Sin Theorem stepped in to open the show. They seemed like a poor fit, and it makes me wonder if the promoter really understood the bill. We skipped them to drink cheaper beers elsewhere. The crowd was pretty big by the time we did show up. Maybe close to a thousand people. It was definitely a rowdy, hard drinking weekend audience.

We got there in time to grab another beer before Madball stormed the stage. For those of you not familiar with the band, They’re fronted by Roger Miret’s (singer of Agnostic Front) younger half brother Freddy Cricien. Madball started off as a side project, with a very young Freddy singing and Agnostic Front serving as his backing band. Eventually they became their own separate entity. Bass player Jorge ‘Hoya Roc’ Guerra has been the other constant, around since 1993. Freddy has been in the NYHC scene since he was like 12 years old. You’d have a really difficult time finding anyone with more street cred.

At first, I was fixated on the fact that Freddy Madball had grown his hair long. (Back in the old days, the only acceptable haircut for New York hardcore was a shaved head.) Freddy still runs back and forth across the stage like a man half his age. His feet barely seemed to touch the ground while the band delivered 45 minutes of crushingly heavy NYHC. Freddy lovingly referred to the crowd as motherfuckers between songs. (This was a recurring theme for the evening.) A giant pit opened up as soon as they started and continued for the rest of the show. It was one of those fast, brutal pits that seemed destined to result in multiple fist fights, though I didn’t see any. Freddy went into the crowd to sing “Pride” before the wrapped things up with the seconds long “Hardcore Still Lives!” I remembered Madball being great live 20 years ago, and it’s still true today.

It won’t surprise any long time fans that Suicidal Tendencies started with “You Can’t Bring Me Down”. It’s been their opening song for as long as I can remember, and might be one of my favorite openers of all time. It’s just one of those songs that really gets the adrenaline flowing. They shortened the intro a bit, but still managed to stretch it out to eight or ten minutes. (This was another recurring theme for the evening.) They later played “Send Me Your Money”, also from 1990’s Lights...Camera...Revolution!. On that song, frontman ‘Cyco’ Mike Muir plays the part of a crooked televangelist. In real life, Muir has long been an evangelist of sorts, though not a crooked one. He’s always spreading the good news of “never give up on your dreams” and “if you get knocked down, get your ass back up.” He preached plenty. As a matter of fact, he managed to squeeze in a mini sermon between almost every song.

The positive messages started before the second song, and continued all night long. I know not everyone loves Cyco Miko’s platitudes, but I’ve always found them charming. I’m sure they had more impact on me when I was younger, but they still make me smile. It’s just part of what makes ST what they are. The second song was “Two Sided Politics”, and it was the first of three cuts from their untouchable 1983 self titled debut LP. They also played “War Inside My Head” and “Possessed to Skate” from Join the Army for us old timers. Before launching into “Possessed”, Muir asked if there were any skaters in the crowd and invited them up on stage. (He also invited some folks up for regular set closer “Pledge Your Allegiance”.) It was pretty amusing watching 50 or more people bounce around up there, but getting them on and off the stage was a bit tedious. The rest of us just stood around sipping our tallboys. 1988’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today was also well represented with three songs. Two brand new ones came from the just released World Gone Mad.

I’d seen Suicidal Tendencies three years earlier at Riot Fest Chicago, and the 2016 version is definitely a leaner, meaner band. Cyco Miko was definitely leaner. His arms and legs never stopped moving. He ran back and forth across the stage swinging his arms at his side like some weird combination of shadowboxing and ‘The Twist’. (If you’ve seen him you know what I’m talking about. I tried to copy him, but it’s very difficult to get it exactly right.) I would probably attribute most of the meanness to addition of former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. ST has has focused on maximizing their thrash elements and minimizing their funkier side. I have to mention that they were all decked out in their signature bandanas and other assorted ST gear. (I sometimes wonder if being in Suicidal is like working at a chain restaurant and you’re required to wear a certain amount of ST flair.)

Both Mike and Freddy talked about the show in terms of family, and there was definitely a brotherhood among the aging fans. (The average age had to be pushing 40.) Even though this show had one of the most violent pits in recent memory, I saw more hugs than punches. I personally enjoyed catching up with some friends that I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like. Suicidal played for an hour and a half before they left the stage. After repeated, loud chants of “ST-ST-ST-ST”, they came back out and did the new song “Living For Life” as their encore. When the house lights came on, most people looked stunned that they didn’t play “Institutionalized”. Most of us had been standing for hours at this point, and were tired or drunk or both. It was impossible to be angry after the energetic, nearly 100 minute show.

Sore feet? Check. Aching back? Check. Ringing ears? Check. Suicidal for life? Check.

Suicidal Tendencies Setlist:

You Can’t Bring Me Down

Two Sided Politics


Trip at the Brain

Clap Like Ozzy

War Inside My Head


Send Me Your Money

Possessed to Skate

I Saw Your Mommy

Cyco Vision

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow

Pledge Your Allegiance


Living For Life