Aside from being my year of birth, 1986 was the year a small band from Queens would virtually help shape the New York variant of hardcore punk and gain a worldwide following as a result, proof being one just CANNOT talk about NYHC (New York hardcore) in general without mentioning the name Sick of It All. And just a year shy of their upcoming 30th anniversary (wow!!!), SOIA – for some who prefer to keep things really brief in true hardcore style – has embarked on a Southeast Asian tour and included a few countries where they haven’t performed yet in their itinerary.
The show proper started at around 4pm, a full hour later than the advertised start. No idea if it’s becoming more of an accepted norm (“fashionably late” as they say) but I suppose it’s still better than no show at all. Anyway, on with the drill…
The first two local bands who performed last Sunday were Arcadia and Give Chance to Run. As I mentioned in my previous post, Arcadia does this more streamlined metalcore thing in the vein of Parkway Drive or As I Lay Dying while Give Chance to Run is a bit more influenced by the melodic hardcore of Lifetime and post-hardcore of Refused. Both bands have this more commercial sound which would’ve worked totally fine in Pulp Summer Slam (Speaking of which, did Arcadia do PSS before? Because if not yet, both them and GC2R need to asap) but it can’t be denied that most of the crowd during their respective sets were either just casually watching or skipping them altogether to chat with fellow attendees and catch up on stuff instead. Rain then started pouring halfway through GC2R’s set and what I found really weird was that The Collective’s roof is actually just A-shaped scaffolding blanketed by some large tarp canvas material with a glaringly large hole located just right above the stage itself. More rainshowers also poured from the sides of that lousy excuse of a roof which made me wonder if maybe Evil Genius (who organized the entire show) should’ve asked whoever actually owns The Collective to have a more permanent roof built in that compound since it would’ve been too much of a hassle if ever any of the electronics and other gear onstage suddenly got busted just because of some nasty downpour.
The sudden rainfall didn’t stop the next two local bands – Skychurch and Badburn – from performing. Found it a bit puzzling that a few folks were already slamming really hard during Skychurch’s set but weren’t doing so come that of Badburn. I absolutely have no idea at all why that was so; both bands nonetheless warmed the crowd up with their pummeling brand of metal and hardcore, respectively. It was a no-show for Wilabaliw though as the official press release said that their vocalist lost his voice after performing for a tattoo festival a few days ago (Okaaaaaaay… if you say so).
I’m totally betting my entire life savings that a large portion of those in the crowd were more than relieved to find out about Wilabaliw’s absence last Sunday as it then meant hardcore punk all the way from that point on. For what already seemed like their nth visit to the country, Hong Kong hardcore punk band King Ly Chee graced the stage some 30 minutes or so after Badburn’s set.
No more chairs and tables on front this time unlike in their last show over at Checkpoint Bar in Parañaque where vocalist Riz had to instruct us in the crowd that night to move all the furniture to the back. Riz sported some shirt from Cebuano hardcore punk band Thought as support not just for them but for the local music scene as a whole which he documents over at his Unite Asia website where he also had recently written a rave review of Thought’s split 7” with Pushed Aside.
Unfortunately, “Riz’s comedy hour” (as he had called his sometimes hilarious stage banter from KLC’s Checkpoint gig) did not happen as he addressed someone from the crowd who was waving the “DIY or die” flag to have an open mind (presumably about being more accepting of hardcore bands not coming from any underground/DIY music scene). No guest vocals from SOIA’s Lou Koller onstage during “Lost in a World” as well but KLC still managed to prove that they are one of the most recognizable among the breed of hardcore bands that emerged within the Southeast Asian region in the early 2000’s as the crowd moshed throughout their entire set. Looks like I finally made up for that missing write-up of their Checkpoint gig from last June.
And on to last Sunday night’s main event…
After almost three decades, legendary New York hardcore band Sick of It All made it to the shores of Manila for a one-night only show that is truly one for the books. The very long wait for most of us in the crowd who considered SOIA as a gateway towards appreciation of not just NYHC but hardcore punk in general was FINALLY over as the Koller brothers Lou and Pete along with Craig Ahead (Setari) and Armand Hammer (Majidi) graced the stage and immediately launched into a barrage of their classics as well as other songs from their post-2000’s material. A huge portion of last Sunday night’s crowd was wildly moshing along even while already soaking full of blood (true story: someone from the crowd got out with a gauzed forehead), sweat (the most I’ve ever sweated out of all the hardcore and metal shows I’ve ever been to) and no tears (pun intended) to SOIA’s entire set – though Lou himself had to tell event security after a few songs in to just ditch the front barricades that had been in place for almost the entire show proper, reason being to prevent any unwanted injuries those steel rails might have caused. No more front barricades meant stagedives left, right and dead center as well as people climbing up the stage and singing along with the band which I personally found very, very amusing as it was perhaps the closest I would ever get to experiencing what the usual hardcore punk moshpit from back in the 80’s (as I had seen via some old-school hardcore punk live show clips posted in YouTube) actually felt like.
What proved to be a bit unsettling though was when a handful of audience members had the gall to take onstage selfies during SOIA’s set. I’ve actually seen Lou gently swat some guy’s phone though I could very easily tell from browsing an aftershow post of a friend who was also there last Sunday night that Pete had a very hard time trying to do to some female crowd member also taking a selfie with him the same thing his brother did since he (Pete) was playing his guitar, thus no swatting hand. I mean, take a selfie all you want with the band after their set but while they are performing, really now? Yes, we are currently in that era where taking a few snaps of the band performing (and only very sparingly at that) is completely normal but a little basic courtesy and respect for SOIA would’ve been much appreciated – most especially as this is not just any mid-level hardcore punk band who took the time and effort to visit the country.
With that little piece of rant now out of the way, I was absolutely more than thrilled to finally hear Lou Koller’s vocals that seem to have aged in reverse – and rather gracefully at that. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in noticing that Lou’s vocals had gone from deep and manly-sounding back in the early days of the band to more high-pitched and youthful-sounding from the 2000’s onwards, which is perhaps the greatest thing to happen to any hardcore punk vocalist ever. This is also most especially considering that Lou Koller is right up there in my self-described trifecta of favorite hardcore punk vocalists of all time (the other two being John Brannon of Negative Approach (who SOIA also did a tour with fairly recently) and Damian Abraham (aka “Pink Eyes”) of Fucked Up).
For those who weren’t able to make it last Sunday night, here’s Sick of It All’s setlist as scooped by a friend of a friend after the show:
01. Good Lookin’ Out
02. Road Less Travelled
03. Clobberin’ Time
04. Injustice System
05. World Full of Hate
06. Death or Jail
07. Sound the Alarm
08. My Life
09. Take the Night Off
12. Scratch the Surface
13. Pushed Too Far
14. Friends Like You
15. Step Down
16. Get Bronx
18. Uprising Nation
20. Us vs. Them
However, two additional songs not included in the handwritten setlist were performed by the band as part of their encore set – namely, “Just Look Around” and their last song (pun also intended) for the night, “Built to Last”.
Sick of It All’s impact was truly felt (yet another intentional pun, hehe) last Sunday night as it is very, very rare that all of us who were there got the chance of a lifetime to see a pioneering band from the golden age of hardcore punk perform right before our very eyes. The band’s Manila show is most definitely something that makes for a very excellent story to be passed on from generation to generation of Pinoy hardcore punk fans.
And just like that, I had succcessfully managed to attend not just one nor two but FOUR(!!) shows for the month of September. No foreign-headlined shows of any relevant interest thus far for October but come November 10 (that’s a Tuesday to save you the trouble of having to find it in whatever kind of calendar is near you right now), noisegrind band Full of Hell will be wreaking havoc over at Checkpoint Bar. No word yet as to which local bands would open for them but I would gladly post it in this blog once officially confirmed.