30 years is a long time, by anyone's standards. 30 years in music is an eternity. 30 years as a band, consistantly touring, continuously putting out quality new releases, without a SINGLE break up, or hiatus? Well, you'd have to be talking about New York's own Sick of It All. Since 1986, Brothers Lou and Pete Koller (Vocals and guitar, respectively) have been instrumental in shaping the New York Hardcore souncscape, as well as its scene. They have toured the world, and released over 10 studio albums of consistent quality and ferocity. They are also (To my knowledge), the first hardcore band in history to collaborate with a prominent MC - KRS-1 blessed them with a drop for their 1989 Debut album, "Blood, Sweat, and No Tears". They even had one of the best video cameos on Beavis & Butthead. Oh. And those Mobb Deep hand tattoos?
You know, these ones?
That dragon has been Sick of It All's logo since before Mobb Deep existed.
It should be noted that both groups originated in Queens, and would eventually collaborate for a remix of Mobb Deep's classic "Survival of The Fittest" on Loud Music's "Loud Rocks" compilation, released in 2000. Pretty dope to have inspired one of New York's quintessential hip-hop groups to tattoo your logo on their hands, methinks.
Besides all that, Sick of It All had has had a significant impact on the direction of my own life. Back when I was an awkward, pissed off 14-year-old punk rocker, I befriended a really cool girl in her early 20's named Olga who lived up the street. Olga was from the East Coast originally, and was living in Venice working in the movie biz. I'd walk to her house, smoke cigarettes, and she'd show me rad bands I'd never heard before, like Government Issue, SOA, and, (you guessed it) Sick of It All. Naturally, when she invited me to come with her to see Sick of It All at the Whiskey, I was all in. The energy was insane, the dance floor was an absolute fucking warzone, and by the time they closed their set out with their seminal classic "Injustice System", I was completely floored. I'd never seen anything like this before, and I loved it. But what really clinched the experience for me was when Olga brought me backstage to meet Lou and Pete, who she'd known from her days back east, as well the rest of the band, which was Craig Ahead on bass, and Armand Majidi on drums (This has been their line up since 1992). There I was, a chubby kid in a Dead Kennedys shirt with a green Mohawk in a room with these dudes who had just incited a controlled riot inside the Whiskey. And you know what? They were super fucking cool. No judgement, no holier-than-thou rockstar bullshit. Just some humble guys who were on tour and treated me as their equal. Thus began my journey into the world of hardcore. Since that night, it's safe to say I've seen Sick of It All live at least twenty times, and always had the same thought while watching them: "Holy shit, after all this time, these guys sound even better."
Enough of me opining about my youth, though. This past Sunday, April 3rd, Sick of It All came through the Roxy on their 30th Anniversary tour, so you know I had to roll. Among the crowd were some of punk and hardcore's finest, including Toby Morse, singer of H20, Scott Vogel, singer of Terror and World Be Free, and Andrew Kline, guitarist for Strife and World Be Free. The bill was solid: North East Los Angeles' original hardcore band Countime opened up, Santa Cruz punk rock veterans B'last as main support, and then it was time for the main event.
SOIA took the stage by storm immediately launching into their long list of classics. They started the show with "Take The Night Off", before immediately launching into "Injustice System", my all-time favorite song from their debut, which I managed to capture below:
The house was packed, the crowd was hyped, and they ran through all the greats: "Built To Last", "Step Down", "Us Vs. Them", "Busted", "Clobbering Time", and many more, including "World Full of Hate", which I also managed to catch most of:
30 years in, and still going strong, still staying true to their roots, and still humble. Lou continuously thanked the crowd for supporting them for all these years, saying "Thanks to all of you, we haven't had to get a real job for 30 fuckin' years!" Because just as we here at Wolf's Head feel, when you love what you do and are passionate about it, whatever it may be, it's not work. Here's to you, Sick of It All. Salute. And thank you to Olga for taking me to my first hardcore show all those years ago.