Scraping Genius Off The Wheel


  • Gary Suarez

STILL SICK AFTER ALL THESE YEARSHardcore has been through a considerable evolution since the emblematic 1980s, with most of the contemporary acts operating under that banner sounding poles apart from progenitors like Black Flag or Minor Threat. So it’s a testament to the state of this music that Queens, New York natives Sick Of It All has managed to stay together–recording and touring–for twenty-five long years without stagnating. Though considered part of a “second wave” of NYHC that followed Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags, the quartet’s discography touches on punky, metallic, and even poppy iterations of hardcore, which has lent to their continued appeal to an inter-generational fanbase, visible and vocal at this hometown 25th anniversary celebration, held at a predictably sold-out Webster Hall.

After an introductory (and downright sentimental) slideshow of candid shots, the Sick Of It All lineup that has held it down for roughly the last 17 years took to the stage with balloons and their indefatigable co-opted slogan, “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” Attendees were treated to a riotously fun career run-through that included cuts (“Death Or Jail”, “A Month Of Sundays”) from their exemplary 2010 LP Based On A True Story. Guitarist Pete Koller prowled the stage with the energy of a 20-year old, while brother and frontman Lou Koller stayed on point and motivational throughout with lines like “Let’s celebrate that we don’t give a fuck.” The breakneck brutality of “Machete” only amplified the cathartic fury present in the flourishing pit, while fan favorite “Shut Me Out” yielded similar satisfaction even in those packed like sardines in the back.

Original bassist Rich Cipriano made a surprise appearance to perform “My Life”–the first song the band ever wrote, and later, longtime bassist Craig Setari dedicated a song–if not the entire set–to his supportive mother, seated in the balcony, who bought him his first bass guitar. It was a tender moment not particularly common at a hardcore show, where machismo and masculine displays reign. Still, it was hard not to get a little emotional as confetti and streamers burst from the stage for set closer “Us Versus Them” of 1997’s Built To Last.

It’s a good thing that Sick Of It All put on such a killer show, because reunited openers Snapcase gave them a run for their money. Listening to the Syracuse band resurrect cuts so tuneful, aggressive and angular, I’m amazed that more Dillinger Escape Plan fans haven’t discovered them. Pit action started off respectfully yet quickly escalated into glorious madness of flying fists and sweeping legs as classics like “Zombie Prescription” and “Caboose” poured from the speakers. Concert highlight “Drain Me”, the opening track off 1994’s Lookinglasself, was raucously well-received by the crowd. Frontman Daryl Taberski went through considerable pains to praise the headliner, citing their gratitude for Sick Of It All taking them along for a pivotal European tour in 1994 and going so far as to call them Snapcase’s “big brother”. Why these guys aren’t mentioned in the same sentence as Helmet and Quicksand is beyond me.


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