Before Eazy-E, before N.W.A, before Ice-T's Uzi went into full effect, the Venice skate-punk-thrash ensemble Suicidal Tendencies was famous for its supposed gang affiliation, and the band was informally blacklisted by local venues. Several years later and Suicidal is still banned from Los Angeles stages--until Saturday it hadn't played a local gig in more than four years.
At a closed-admission showcase at the Country Club, part of Foundations Forum heavy-metal convention, the band's short, five-song set explored the possibilities of thrash kind of like the test at Alamagordo tested the possibilities of theoretical physics. Singer Mike Muir, a hunched, tan, unsettling presence, wheezed like Brando and bounced around the stage like a cross between a muscled beach crazy and a Sha Na Na from hell. Lead guitarist Rocky George unrolled a maniacal grin that seemed to reach nearly to his eyebrows, and shrieked solos in strange modes no musicologist has yet bothered to describe. A joyful noise.
Openers Excel, a phenomenal skate-thrash band in its own right, was unnerved early on by equipment problems, and the level of the stiff set rarely approached the quality of the band's top-of-the-line metal riffs.