Being the last out of four shows I obliged myself to attend to for this month, New York hardcore institution Sick of It All will be visiting Manila for the very first time exactly a week from now. If I could still recall it correctly, the story that ran around as to why SOIA will be performing here in the country all of a sudden was that the Manila leg of their Southeast Asian tour for this year was a replacement for the one in Indonesia that got cancelled due to Eid’l Adha being celebrated more traditionally over those parts. Here’s the thing though: A member of a local underground punk band who is already rather experienced in organizing DIY punk and hardcore shows offered to bring SOIA here but came out empty-handed due to some budgetary concerns (at least from what I’ve heard) – until some drummer fella from a mainstream rock band who owns a clothing line decided to take a gamble at it since he is said to have done some SOIA covers back in his high school band or something of that sort and got himself rewarded with the privilege of being in charge of bringing what he deems to be a personal musical influence to the country.

Yay, Sick of It All Live in Manila… … whoops, sorry, different group (who also performed here in the country last night btw).

Some days after the official announcement that Sick of It All would be doing a show in Manila, the corresponding poster along with its opening lineup was posted. This is the poster in question:

Just in case anyone’s wondering, that GC2R right there is a band called Give Chance to Run.

Some who are more rooted within the underground punk and hardcore scene have questioned the legitimacy of that opening lineup as well as the ticket prices (600 flat, 1000 comes with SOIA’s official Manila tour shirt) that they say are a bit more on the expensive end (to put things into perspective, ticket prices for most DIY punk and hardcore shows fall at an average of around 100 to 300 pesos) while others have even snidingly quipped that next Sunday’s show would be largely composed of Wilabaliw’s mostly “jumping jologs” fanbase who fondly call themselves “daga” (“rat” for non-Tagalog speakers).

Artist’s sketch of your typical Queso/Wilabaliw fan

However, to give the benefit of the doubt to the evil genius (pun fully intentional) currently responsible for successfully bringing SOIA to the country, perhaps what he had in mind when he decided upon that opening lineup was to put a handful of local hardcore and metal bands that don’t necessarily sound the same as one another and are already strongly connected with the more mainstream scene he is in. You have Give Chance to Run with their Lifetime and Refused-influenced melodic hardcore (at least from what I heard when I first saw them perform), Arcadia who does this more streamlined metalcore thing (think Parkway Drive or As I Lay Dying), Badburn and their metallic hardcore, and Skychurch with their four-to-the-floor groove metal. If one were to ask me, I personally find that opening lineup right there kinda OK even if not up to the expectations of most everyone who knows their NYHC. Some have actually suggested for Piledriver, D.O.A. (not the more established Canadian hardcore punk band just to be clear) and perhaps one or two bands from the Still Ill roster to open for SOIA but what’s sure enough is that nobody wants an opening lineup whose kind of hardcore sounds eerily the same as that of SOIA or it would just completely fall flat by the time the third or fourth band hits the stage.

Some might notice that I didn’t include Hong Kong hardcore band King Ly Chee. That was intentional on my end since KLC is a co-headliner for next Sunday’s show and since I’ve seen them perform some months ago after missing out on their numerous visits to the country (though I unfortunately forgot to make a write-up of that show they did so seeing them on the 27th would completely serve as my chance to make up for that missing review), I’m still as stoked as ever to shout along to “Lost in a World” and even expecting SOIA’s Lou Koller to join them onstage on guest vocals just like in this recorded version of that song:

Wilabaliw’s omission from that rather quick rundown of what each band in the opening lineup sounds like was also intentional btw since I will never be part of the rat race, heh.

And for those who are griping as to why that opening lineup is a bit too mainstream for their personal taste, here’s an interesting article from Noisey: the second of a two-part oral history of SOIA (part one can be found here as well) wherein vocalist Lou Koller fondly recalls that time when the band had a very heated on-air debate with fellow hardcore punk band Born Against on a WNYU radio show called “Crucial Chaos”. The entire debate which someone very helpfully upped to YouTube in three parts can be heard below:

Long story short, if you don’t like that opening lineup right there, you could very simply go to the show proper much, much later than the 3pm start to catch only KLC and SOIA. Or like what I’m gonna do by getting out of B-Side for a few minutes during Wilabaliw’s set to chill and hang out with some folks who share my personal sentiments as to why the fuck Wilabaliw is even part of that opening lineup for SOIA.

Now that I’ve gotten my thoughts on the official opening lineup for SOIA’s Manila show out of the way, I have decided just like when Xibalba performed last Monday to cancel all getaway plans for next Friday and Saturday since I’m looking to get some optimal rest for my body to be fully ready come the 27th. Really hoping B-Side’s outdoor stage gets fully packed to the brim with just enough space to mosh regardless of whichever fanbase next Sunday’s show would attract.

ERRATA (September 22, 2015): The previously published version of this post stated the upcoming Muslim holiday as Eid’l Fitr. This has since been corrected to Eid’l Adha.