Recap: Suicide Machines at Reggies
Evil Empire returnsPhil Collins - October 5, 2014
Suicide Machines shows, as rare as they are these days, are going to start getting a reputation for having stacked lineups. Suicide Machines broke up in 2006, but have been playing sporadic shows since 2009. As lead singer Jay Navarro told the crowd at Reggies Rock Club on Wednesday, he had a few days off work so he booked a few shows. When they do get a chance to play, the bill is getting loaded with talented bands. They played at Reggies about a year ago and the lineup included hardcore supergroup Dead Ending, Detroit ragamuffins The Goddamn Gallows and the head-turning Portland crust punks Dirty Kid Discount. This time around, the bill included New Orleans hardcore group PEARS, skacore locals Still Alive and the metamorphosed suburban skacore legends Evil Empire.
The classic ska/skate punk album "Destruction By Definition" got plenty of attention in Suicide Machines' set. This was a hugely influential album for a lot of people, especially early Tony Hawk Pro Skater fans. "New Girl" was the last song played before the encore. They opened with "S.O.S." and also played "The Real You," "Break the Glass," "Islands," "Too Much" and "So Long." When they played "Hey," the person standing next to me in the crowd turned and said "They played it! They played it!" That is exactly how I feel about that song. It has everything I like about Suicide Machines wrapped in one explosive package. They also played "War Profiteering is Killing Us All," the title track from their last full-length album. The lead singer of Still Alive joined the band on "Capsule (AKA Requiem for the Stupid Human Race.)" Still Alive covers that song and the two bands usually collaborate on it in some fashion when they are in the same room.
PEARS put on a fun, straight-ahead hardcore show. They released their first album, "Go to Prison," earlier this year. Check it out on bandcamp. This four-piece from New Orleans is going to build a fanbase fast. Still Alive, a perfect match for Suicide Machines, killed it as they always do. They strut the line between hardcore and ska, as Suicide Machines have done for years. Their music is available for free download on bandcamp.
I never thought I would see Evil Empire again. Seeing those songs performed again was nothing short of a cathartic release. "Does this Genocide Make Me Look Sexy?" is one of the best albums there is in the skacore genre. It was the only album Evil Empire would ever record. Released in 2006, the album gained the band a following of local fans. Their lead singer moved out of state sometime in the next few years and the band's live lineup became notoriously shaky (you never knew how many members would show up and you probably would never see a trumpet player). The band dissolved, leaving behind a small but unforgettable discography. It was a great surprise to me when the band released three songs on bandcamp last year and opened for Morning Glory. I did not get a chance to see them then, but the questions were numerous. Who was in the band? Were they back together? Not hearing much after that show, I was again pleasantly surprised when they were announced as openers for this Suicide Machines show.
I could not honestly tell you whether any of the original members of Evil Empire remain in this lineup. What I can say is that they are playing tight together and they are playing the songs I have been waiting to see played live since the band fell apart. They opened with "Kill Me Please," which was followed quickly by "40 Acres and a Hearse." They also played "Turn the Gun," "Mediaphobia," "Support Your Local Police State," "Scam," "Cross This Line," "Cult of Domesticity" and some new songs. They did a backward version of "Prostitute Song," playing the lounge-y second half first before launching into the hardcore first half. It was evident that a decent crowd of people showed up early to see this band play, singing along, skanking and shouting out requests. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era of a great band.