Sick Of It All at the Camden Underworld
With 22 years, 7 different labels and 8 full length albums behind them you’d expect the seminal New York City hardcore troopers Sick Of It All to have changed a little.
But seeing them play the intimate Camden Underworld I know they’re the same band they were when they started out and when I was a mere toddler of 2 years old.
Sick Of It All not only appear to defy age but they also appear to be able to play the same music for two decades and make it sound as contemporary as ever. It’s not a criticism. No one wants this band to change. They are perfect and always have been perfect exactly the way they are.
Back to the gig, Lou Koller looks as happy as ever on stage, there’s something comforting about this. When you think of hardcore you think of aggression and when you see Koller singing on stage you see someone quite cheerful. This man is not angry, he’s just enjoying every minute of his band and every minute of this gig. You get the feeling SOIA enjoy the small venues. As a band that has started out in small venues and have stayed on the underground scene throughout their career, you get the feeling this is where they feel most comfortable.
As far as the crowd goes, they were obviously happy. As soon as the first note was struck a circle pit emerged and pretty much continued throughout the entire set. When crowd favourites such as my personal favourite catchy as hell punk track ‘Step Down’ struck, the pit doubled and the mass fist punching began. The whole place was alive with (and without meaning to sound clichéd) absolute passion.
Before one of their best known tracks ‘Scratch the Surface’ Koller asked the crowd to part, you could actually feel the excitement build. When the song began you couldn’t hear Koller from the crowd. Everyone knew these words and everyone chanted them.
As SOIA left the stage you knew exactly what to expect, the crowd began their chant in unison, ‘Whoa Whoa Oh, Oi, Oi, Oi’. The guys coolly strolled back on to the stage for the song we all expected as the encore.
When all was over it was easy to see why this band have been one of the most famous and most respected hardcore bands on the underground scene. They simply have the best songs, the best attitude and the best stage presence. There’s no pretension and no arrogance, they’re just the same as they always have been and that’s definitely something to respect.
On my way out of what now feels like a sweat filled oven, an older friend of mine tells me he saw SOIA 15 years ago at the London Garage. He sums up the gig perfectly, “If it aint broke, why fix it?”