LIVE (Retro): Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies and Pantera @ Saratoga Winners, 9/6/1990

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30 years ago tonight, on September 6, 1990, a roaring triple-bill of hardcore thrash metal rolled into Saratoga Winners in Latham, NY: EXODUS, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and PANTERA.

Pantera were still pretty new (nationally, anyway, they’d been playing for years in Texas) at this point, and had just released their major-label debut ‘Cowboys From Hell’ record like a month or so earlier. The set featured songs like “Cowboys From Hell”, “Primal Concrete Sledge” and “Domination” from that record, and although they were third-on-the-bill and visiting the area for the first time, you could tell from the pit and the crowd reaction that they were going be big. They’d return to the same venue the next year (still promoting ‘Cowboys…’) with New York heavies Prong, and later Wrathchild America and the place was mobbed. Then they just got bigger and bigger – opening for Skid Row at RPI, headlining the Palace Theater for a raucous, seat-destroying show in ’92, and headlining the Pepsi Arena with Sepultura and Biohazard in the middle of the decade. Truly the metal band of the 1990s.

Despite Pantera’s raw energy and huge reaction, this night belonged to Suicidal Tendencies.  The Venice, CA band had visited the area in the early/mid 80s playing VFW hardcore shows, and the crowd turned out for them this night.  They just brought the house down, the pit extended fully for half the venue’s length, and they owned the night.  At singer Mike Muir’s behest, the crowd was roaring “ST” louder than the band was playing during “Pledge Your Allegiance”, and they did a long set of classics like “You Can’t Bring Me Down”, “Join The Army”, “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow”, “War Inside My Head”, and many more – an amazing show.

Exodus, who headlined this gig (the tour was an Exodus-ST co-headlining tour, with each band closing every other night), are not to be trifled with either, but the Bay Area heavies paled in comparison to ST.  Exodus, of course, had released one of the seminal thrash metal albums of all time with their blazing debut, ‘Bonded By Blood’, and after changing singers from Paul Baloff to Steve Souza had released two worthy follow-up records.  But in 1990 they were promoting the weak ‘Impact Is Imminent’ record, and although this night’s set was a mix of songs from all of their records, ‘Impact’ tracks featured heavily.   They were good, a legendary thrash band and heroes all, but this night simply anti-climactic after Suicidal.  Game, set and match to the Suicidal T’s.

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