Sick Of It All @ Highline Ballroom (2/9/2008) went Hardcore Punk for a night as the mighty Sick Of It All headlined over at The Highline Ballroom. They would bring with them Wisdom In Chains, Bloodclot, The Unseen and Death Before Dishonor and while I love a good show, my purpose for being there primarily was to take photos for Metal Edge magazine. There was a writer from the magazine on assignment somewhere among the crowd & I knew that in the end I would report about it just the same since keeping readers amused is why we do this. To learn more and see a lot more photos than the magazine used just scroll past the logo below.

Logo - Sick Of It All

Artist: Sick Of It All
Venue: Highline Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: Wisdom In Chains, Death Before Dishonor, Bloodclot, Unseen
Date: 2/9/2008
Label: Abacus Records

If you ever are thinking that you are running out of things to do with your time and are an open minded fan of heavy music perhaps you should look into one of the many Hardcore shows that seem to be happening in the Big Apple. Tonight I would get my own chance to dig into the genre more than I normally would as the legendary Sick Of It All performed at The Highline Ballroom down on West 16th Street and suffice it to say this would be one blowout of an event. As I approached the venue I saw a line unlike any I had ever seen at this same venue and while other shows here have sold out, I just was not in attendance for them. It was great to see this kind of turnout and the fans that got their tickets early were in for a treat as there would be four other bands to enjoy as well. Scheduled to appear on the bill was Wisdom In Chains, Death Before Dishonor, Bloodclot and The Unseen. I had to admit that I was really going into this one blind having been much more of the Metal head than anything resembling a Hardcore Punk fan. Wisdom In Chains would come up first and the show would start rather early based on five bands hitting the stage tonight. Here is how it went down.

Wisdom In Chains: It was pretty much “on” when these guys hit the stage as their singer Joe began denouncing the higher priced VIP area and free access saying it was a Hardcore show and not corporate stuff. After a few tunes he sent a few thanks out and directed a lot of “f**k you’s” to the security staff who were continually breaking up the circle pit dancing and moshers. I had to say that I felt this was a little unnecessary myself because the kids were slamming as opposed to that idiotic kick boxing karate shit that I have been seeing at the Metal shows. Someone is bound to be hurt from that stuff and I am not speaking as such by being “old”. Some of the songs were called “Fighting In The Streets” and “We’re Not Helping” and before he would leave the gig he would lambaste the venue for taking a percentage of the merchandise profits. So that instead of allowing this to happen they would instead be selling all of their stuff on the streets “where this music started out” as he so exclaimed. This was met with cheers from the audience and before you knew it they were done and it was time for Death Before Dishonor to come out.

Death Before Dishonor: Straight Edge Hardcore was what it was all about with Boston’s Death Before Dishonor and I have to say that the band delivered a solid set which was going over like gangbusters from the moment hey hit the stage. There were a decent amount more people inside now and the crowd was swirling and periodically rushing the stage with abandon. I had actually reviewed one of their recent CD’s and while it was not my “thing” was happy to see that the support and appreciation they got was being broadcast tonight in full. Their stuff is very, very heavy and I felt that it held a much more Metal base – at least from my perception tonight. I might have to give them a second go with the music. Who knows, maybe I will like it a whole lot more when I hear it again. Bloodclot was out next and a lot of people were buzzing about this act.

Bloodclot: Another one of New York City’s own groups was on point once again and apparently a relative newcomer to the whole Hardcore scene in terms of a band, but not new at all when one learns that they are fronted by John Joseph of the legendary Cro-Mags. The place seemed to be as crowded as it was going to get by now and when Bloodclot hit the stage there was a lot more stage-diving and the kids making their way onto the stage to be rushed off to the side and so on. The Hardcore bands seem to thrive off of this kind of activity and closeness with the fans and I have to admit that I admire it, because during a Metal show there is so much planning involved depending on whom it is and a fan on the stage can take away from a particular moment. Non Hardcore fans might find it interesting to know that Joseph’s nickname is actually “Bloodclot” and he is actually an author and sometimes actor. Their set was pretty good and after they were done there were a group of fans at the merchandise table looking to meet with Joseph and thank him for his accomplishments for their scene. That’s never a bad thing to find happening. The Unseen was on next and the night was so far moving along without a hitch. There were no issues between the fans and anyone in the club around them which was an interesting albeit pleasant surprise. .

Unseen: This was probably the most energetic of the groups so far in my humble opinion. The Boston based Unseen. While this show was for SOIA, it really seemed as though a lot of the crowd was there for them. The crowd-surfing had escalated, and there was a ton of singing along and their lead singer was half of the reason that there was so much more insanity going on. He kept hitting himself on the head with the microphone, which had to hurt just a bit even though he had a wool cap on. I caught that “What R U Gonna Do” and “Xplode” were songs that were delivered and I had to say that the Iron Maiden chant that happened was a little bit of a surprise to me. I would see these guys again as I felt that they were clearly the most Metal of the bunch. Now it was time for the time honored and respected Sick Of It All to come out and you could hardly move in the place by this point.

Sick Of It All: It is without question that they are legends of the Hardcore movement and the sword-bearing keepers of the faith when it comes to the proliferation of the genre and that being said, one can easily see why the show at this intimate venue was sold out well in advance. I had to say that while I knew only a couple of their numbers based on friends who were into them that I had never seen them perform even though they had been around for some twenty-two years by this point. According to my research the band on the stage tonight had been working together since the beginning and had never broken up, instead choosing to keep recording and maintaining levels of activity for the Hardcore scene which still has a strong cult following today. They are fronted by Lou Koller who spoke to the kids often and said how if someone fell down, you pick them up since that is how its done in this music. I really liked hearing that as opposed to finding the audience trampled under foot by the other fans. He also mused aloud about how one of his own first Hardcore shows was a Leeway show and then Agnostic Front who he had sent shout outs to. Each of these bands names were met with applause upon being mentioned which showed me that they are still quite respected by the fans. I liked knowing that the band had never broken up and returned time and time again and instead kept their focus on pushing their music ahead. The set was very energetic and had a lot of interaction from the crowd. Towards the end we even saw the return of Joe from Wisdom In Chains who joined the guys onstage to sing one of their numbers. It was a great treat for the crowd. Some of the numbers that I liked the most tonight fell to “Built To Last”, “Clobberin’ Time” and “Friends Like These” as they stood out for me the most. The bands influential status found them being honored on a CD entitled “Our Impact Will Be Felt” which was an album of their material as covered by other Hardcore bands. If you want to know how others offer their homage to SOIA then I suggest that you check this one out.

Having never seen any of these bands before I had to say that the entire evening was rather intense and quite a bit of an education on a scene that I don’t normally involve myself in. Everyone was working together in the circle pits and no one got hurt, plus everyone was giving a ravenous response for each band that they saw as opposed to giving anyone a hard time who was up there giving the crowd their all. I think that I might start looking into a few more shows like this if the time to do so happens. Hardcore is a very pure genre and I think many fans of that which is heavy would enjoy themselves as well.

SIOA Set List
1. What’s Goin’ On
2. Clobberin’ Time/Pay The Price
3. Take The Night Off
4. Built To Last
5. Just Look Around
6. Uprising Nation
7. Injustice System
8. Step Down
9. Faithless
10. My Life
11. Blown Away
12. Friends Like These
13. Sanctuary
14. Busted
15. Scratch The Surface
16. Us vs. Them
17. Goatless (encore)

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