Show Review: Sick Of It All 25th Anniversary Show at Webster Hall, New York 3/26/11

words by Paul J. Comeau | photos by Peter Borghard | Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Hardcore bands are not known for their longevity. Sick Of It All are a band who have managed to survive and thrive, going strong for 25 years. To celebrate their silver anniversary, the band played a sold-out show at Webster Hall in New York City alongside friends Snapcase, Merauder, and Razorblade Handgrenade.

Razorblade Handgrenade are a young band from New Jersey with two self-released CDs. Their music is reminiscent of heavy ’90s hardcore, with some rap-core influences. The band has a ton of energy on stage, particularly the band’s frontman Wes, and got a great response from the early crowd. Following RBHG was Brooklyn’s legendary Merauder.

Part of the explosion of metalcore bands in the early to mid-’90s, Merauder established themselves as one of the premier practitioners of the sound with 1996’s album Master Killer. One of the heaviest bands in the business, Merauder fuses their heaviness with gang-vocal choruses, and ties it together with raging riffs and solos. While they have influenced countless imitators over the years, few can rival either their ferocity or their technical mastery.

After Merauder pummeled the audience into submission, it was time for Buffalo, New York’s Snapcase to take things to a higher level. Throughout the course of their existence, Snapcase were one of the most original and innovative bands in hardcore. Their complex song structures, technical riffs, and alternating tempos gave Snapcase a truly unique sound that no other band has ever come close to duplicating. Sick Of It All were so impressed by Snapcase when they first came out in the early ’90s that they invited the young band to come to Europe with them for what ended up being Snapcase’s first European tour.

“They were always our favorite band to tour with,” said SOIA’s Lou Koller. The band opened their set with “Coagulate” from their 2002 album End Transmission and followed that up with classics from across their discography including “Harrison Bergeron,” “Bleeding Orange,” “Zombie Prescription,” “Drain Me,” “Caboose,” and “Incarnation,” by audience request. Despite being inactive, Snapcase have lost none of the intensity that made them such an amazing band in their prime. They sounded as good during this reunion set as they sounded when they were touring full time.

Though Snapcase put on a stage-stealing performance, the night truly belonged to Sick Of It All. Their set opened with a video montage tracing the band’s history through pictures and show fliers from their early days right up to the present. The video ended with the call out, “We don’t know what the future holds, but for now…it’s clobberin’ time!” The band took the stage and played the song “Clobberin’ Time” as air cannons shot foam balls into the crowd. They followed the opening song with a diverse selection of fan favorites, including some songs they had not played live in years. Among the songs played were “GI Joe Headstomp,” “Machete,” “Step Down,” “Good Lookin’ Out,” “Built to Last,” and others. The band’s original bassist, Richie Cipriano, made a special appearance to perform the first song they ever wrote together, “My Life,” with the band. The band gave heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported them over the years, including family, friends, and fans alike. But particular thanks were given to their wives and girlfriends. The band dedicated the song “Sanctuary” to their wives for all their support.

With two songs left in their set, it was time for the song and event that anyone who has ever been to a SOIA show can recall fondly. The song, “Scratch the Surface.” The event:  “the wall of death.”  Put simply, the wall of death is when everyone on the dance floor separates into two sides. When the music starts, they rush at each other Braveheart-style trying to make it through to the other side.

“Nobody sue us if you get hurt, alright?” Koller joked, before belting out the title of the song as the band launched into the intro. The two sides of the crowd rushed at each other and broke apart like waves on the rocks into a sea of swinging limbs and flying bodies.

The band ended their set with the popular anthem “Us Versus Them,” and the venue thundered with the shouts of the crowd singing along as confetti rained down from above. After the show, the band thanked the crowd and hung out shaking hands and posing for pictures with friends new and old alike. When asked what’s kept Sick Of It All going strong all these years, vocalist Lou Koller said, “It’s a couple of things. Basically, I know it sounds cheesy, but we just love this music. Once we started playing, we didn’t want to do anything else. We knew we might not make money on it or whatever. We used to work terrible day jobs just so we could go on tour, but then we lucked out and it became our life.”

While Koller is modest, more than luck has certainly played a part in Sick Of It All’s success. The unwavering dedication put into every aspect of their music proves that they are “built to last.”

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