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THE SUICIDE MACHINES w/ Stretch Armstrong, and Whole Wheat Bread



  The Masquerade  

Poncey-Highlands, Atlanta, GA

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My buddy John is running sound for sound for Columbia, SC based Stretch Armstrong. He invited me out to the show, and I took him up on it. Twas a memorable evening, accented by favorable as well as painful memories, and invigorating new ideas.

I'm sorry I did not catch the opening band, ForDireLifeSake. This show started at 8:00! The second act, Jacksonville FL's Whole Wheat Bread, featured 3 fine young black men playing Blink 182-style punk rock. Not very different, but the attitude was. It was fun, and the guys in the band did an excellent job getting the crowd into the show. We'll probably be hearing more from them in the future.

Then came Stretch Armstrong. For people who live in the Southeast and are into the underground punk rock scene, you've either seen these guys on more than one occasion, or had to play with them. They're not bad, but they've been there and done that, over and over again. They have changed lineups a few times, and are constantly touring. Their hardcore-metal-punk with sensitive scream-o lyrics is not for me. They do sound tight, and they're good at what they do. They have their fans, and they do get a lot of support. I just don't like it. I used to joke about them and say: I don't really like metal. Also worthy of mention, Stretch Armstrong has recently appeared on the Fuse Channel, with a top rated video. Check out their website for more info.

This particular show has a lot of personal meaning to myself. I was a big Suicide Machines fan back when they put out a cassette under the name Jack Kervorkian & the Suicide Machines. I remember reading an article in Maximum Rock & Roll claiming that they would have all these weirdoes coming to their shows thinking Dr. Jack was going to speak. I also got arrested on the way to go see them play back in 1995 (simple possession. I served my community service at a Good Will Store). At the time, their drummer was selling homemade Born Against t-shirts. I think that he didn't play with them for much longer after that. Then I guess they lost the original bass player too. Shortly thereafter, Destruction by Definition was released, and the track New Girl was featured on the first Tony Hawk Pro Skater videogame, released on all major video game systems, propelling the band to superstar punk icons.

So, the Suicide Machines have come a long way from the photocopied cassette insert I proudly cherish. Their newer material I am not too familiar with. From what I heard, it is definitely more focused, angry, and political. The band has fun with their blend of Ska and hardcore punk, with a good dose of metal thrown in. At the same time, there is sincerity in their music that is not really present in a lot of punk rock. These guys are truly furious, and they mean well. The band has always had punk rock ideals, but now they have the power to throw in some Rastafarian chorusing in some of their songs. It works well, and there is a chemistry that develops with the audience during their shows.

The Suicide Machines have come a long way, and perhaps they have reached a point in their career where they are doing this as a main form of income. I think that they have the creative ability to continue to pursue their musical goals, and hopefully political as well. There is an overwhelmingly anti war stance they take in their music, and I think most people that are into underground music can agree with them in this respect. If there's one message I think the band is clear about, that is it.

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