Sick Of It All celebrated their new LP with H2O, Wisdom In Chains & White Collar Crime @ Irving (pics, review, setlists)
photos by Mathieu Bredeau, words by Klaus KinskI
Sick Of It All / H2O at Irving Plaza – 10/4/14
Saturday October 4 marked my 14 year anniversary of living in this overpriced hellhole we call New York City. In honor of yours truly and this personal milestone, New York City hardcore veterans Sick of it All headlined a sick quadruple bill at a very packed Irving Plaza. At least, I pretended the show was happening in my honor because I am a sociopath. In reality, the show, which also featured White Collar Crime LLC, Wisdom in Chains, and fellow NYHC vets H2O, was actually a record release party for Sick of it All’s newest crusher Last Act of Defiance which came out on September 30, 2014. The evening was DJed by the great Gibby Haynes who spun everything from punk, to garage, to noise, to Steve Miller’s ‘Abracadabra’.
For once in my life, I got to the show before the first band White Collar Crime LLC hit the stage and I am glad I did. From start to finish this show was a relentless display of truly great hardcore without a single weak spot in the entire line-up. Though their set clocked in at under 30 minutes, White Collar Crime LLC were terrific and a bit of a departure from what one might expect from a NYHC show. Without the short-cropped hair often donned by members of the hardcore community, these four long-haired mofos unleashed a sound that was a fantastic mix of old school thrash and straight-up hardcore. Though their music had an extreme anti-establishment, anti-religion, anti-corporate-Disnification of America vibe, there was a certain level of humor inherent in the lyrics and the stage banter. Hardcore icon and renowned vegan John Joseph from the Cro Mags joined the band for a song called “FroYo.” At this point in my life I am not actively seeking out new hardcore, but I am so glad I got to the show early and caught White Collar’s set. They were super fun and intense, but had a sound that could fit bills beyond your standard hardcore.
The next band up was Wisdom in Chains and they had a sound much more typical for this sort of hardcore bill. Hailing from Northeastern Pennsylvania, Wisdom in Chains really whipped the crowd into a frenzy and really set the momentum for the fist-pumping, singing along, and circle pitting that would be coursing through the venue for the remainder of the evening. For anyone into Warzone, Madball, Cro Mags, and Agnostic Front (basically everyone in the room), Wisdom really brought the stank. Front man Mad Joe Black is an absolute tank of a human being. Built like a brick shithouse and with pipes that give Sick of it All’s Lou Koller a run for his money, Mad Joe owned the stage. However, during their set venue security really started to get out of hand. Although a barricade prevented stage diving, there was plenty of crowd surfing going on. Inevitably, some of the surfers drifted up to the barricade area. At one point I saw a security person grab a crowd surfer and slam him face first into the floor. A few minutes later, another security dude did the same thing to someone else. It was a gratuitous, unwarranted, unbridled and completely barbaric show of force and the guys in Wisdom in Chains rightfully called them out on it, even going as far as challenging the security personnel to throw down right then and there against them. Smartly, personnel declined the invitation to have their asses handed to them and for the rest of the evening they were way more respectful to crowd surfers who drifted up to the barricade. Rather than pull them over and throw them to the ground, they changed tact completely and assisted barricade-bound crowd surfers to a soft and safe landing. Good on Wisdom in Chains for addressing the situation before it got out of hand; it was security personnel creating unsafe conditions, not concert goers. Beyond that, Wisdom in Chains destroyed. Crushing, aggressive, and heavy as hell. An absolutely unmissable act.
The next band up was New York hardcore icons H2O. Although this was a Sick of it All record release show, the inclusion of a band as great and as well respected as H2O made it feel like they were co-headlining as opposed to opening for SOIA. I thought the audience came alive during Wisdom in Chains…. However, H2O instantly whipped the room into a next-level frenzy that I have not seen at a show in ages. Their setlist was absolutely packed with crowd favorites, but classics like “Everready,” “Family Tree,” and “Guilty By Association” almost had an old pile of garbage like me in the pit throwing bones and singing along (almost). I have seen H2O many times since their inception almost 20 years ago, and each time they bring their A game. H2O is best experienced live. Trust me.
After a brief intermission it was time for the main event. Sick of it All have been doing their thing for nearly 30 years, and I cannot think of a single band in the genre (or any genre for that matter) who have been as consistent as SOIA, both in the studio and live. I have seen them dozens of times since the early ’90s and I find it staggering that they are as heavy as ever and that Lou Koller’s voice is as strong and as deafening as ever. In 1997 they released a record called Built To Last. I wonder if they realized how prescient that album title really was. From top to tail, SIOA gave a performance that never lost an ounce of intensity. Guitarist Pete Koller trains in Brazilian jiu jitsu which probably explains how he can, for an hour plus, jump 5 feet in the air, spin around, and run all over the stage non-stop without ever missing a note or dropping dead from exertion. He is a sight to behold. And although his brother, vocalist Lou Koller, has A LOT of help from the audience in the vocals department, that guy can scream as loud as ever. It is staggering. The cuts they played from their new album “Last Act of Defiance” were indistinguishable in terms of quality and bad assedness from their classic cuts. They closed the show with crushers “Scratch the Surface” and “Step Down” from 1994’s Scratch the Surface album. There was no encore, but after the show they did hop down to the barricaded area and spend considerable time fist bumping and shaking hands with legions of fans. This was a show for the history books folks.
More pictures, videos and SOIA’s and H2O’s setlists below…
White Collar Crime
Wisdom In Chains
Sick Of It All
Sick Of It All (filmed by Jammi York)
H2O – “Family Tree”
SOIA SETLIST (via)
Good Lookin’ Out
Sound the Alarm
Death or Jail
Take the Night Off
Road Less Traveled
Us vs. Them
Just Look Around
Disconnect Your Flesh
Friends Like You
World Full of Hate
Call to Arms
Scratch the Surface