Sick Of It All

support LLNN
author PP date 09/08/15 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Sunday nights are always tough for live music in Denmark, but with the addition of warm temperatures and summer holidays they can be even tougher. I've elected to show up at the venue about 10 minutes before tonight's supporting act LLNN goes on stage, and to my dismay find I'm just about the sixth or seventh person present at the venue at this point in time. Fortunately my mental preparation for a disaster turnout were misguided in the end as people begin pouring into the venue at a steady pace during LLNN's set, although the lack of an audience certainly made it tough for their brand of blackened hardcore to make a good impression live.

LLNN

Alas, LLNN are facing improbable odds for a good audience dynamic given they start their set to a mostly empty room. Their lineup reads ex-members of The Psyke Project among others, so a high-energy, uncompromising onslaught is to be expected in terms of showmanship, but such a display of energy usually also requires a small audience in an intimate venue, or alternatively packed one at a larger venue, to work properly. Tonight, people stand far away from the scene, leaving it up to the band alone to convince us of their worth both in terms of stage movement and songwriting ability. They play a brand of metallic, blackened hardcore that's best described as post-apocalyptic given its prolonged buildups and ravaging, skull-piercing shrieks and screams by their two vocalists. On record, it's extremely raw to start out with - live even more so. Our eardrums are shattering as the band's abrasive, bass-heavy pummeling slowly forces its way into our consciousness, leaving behind a doom-laden atmosphere that's only broken by the manic movement by their bassist and guitarist as they thrash around the stage at every opportunity.

LLNN

Headbanging, jumps and all the rage suggests this is a blast to experience at one of the two scenarios mentioned earlier on, but tonight there's a weird and too stark contrast created by their mostly stand-still keyboardist who should optimally be moving around with similarly crazy energy as the other guys on stage display from time to time. The band air mostly songs from their upcoming debut album, which means none of us have heard them before, making their uncompromising music even less accessible than before. Subsequently the show is difficult to get into properly especially given the lacking crowd dynamic, but you shouldn't judge the band's overall quality based on one support slot alone. They're probably better than this at their own shows, but tonight they face a rather skeptical crowd.

6

Sick Of It All

By the time Sick of It All start their set, the 550 capacity venue is about half full which is just enough to get a great crowd dynamic going. Vocalist Lou Koller is dressed in a Madball t-shirt with large HARDCORE STILL LIVES text printed on the back, to remind us both of their New York Hardcore heritage but also of the Scott Vogel-led ideology that hardcore isn't dead despite what evil tongues occasionally suggest. They kick off with "Uprising Nation" and "Machete" combo from 2005 classic "Death To Tyrants", immediately reminding us of the high-caliber songs in their arsenal as well as their relentless energy, which has been a trademark throughout their 29-year career, underlining exactly the sentiment of Lou's choice of attire tonight. The band simply display a ridiculous amount of energy on stage where their guitarist and bassist are engaged in constant airtime, whether via frenetically bouncing across the stage, doing scissor kick-jumps, or just swirling around in manic manner. It's hard to believe these dudes are approaching their 50s - they certainly put many of their younger counterparts to shame in terms of stagemanship.

Sick Of It All - airtime

The setlist tonight is extremely well balanced with material both old and new aired in more or less equal fashion. We hear "Death Or Jail" from 2011's "Based On A True Story", which is contrasted right after by "My Life", which Koller tells us they wrote as angry teenagers. "29 years later, we still sing it as grumpy middle-aged men", he continues while sporting a huge, warm grin on his face prior to to the track, which comes off 1989's "Blood, Sweat And No Tears". They show no signs of slowing down as "Take The Night Off" provides a mid-set highlight with its huge "Let's celebrate that we don't give a fuck" gang shouts, drawing high-flying middle fingers and chant-alongs from the audience. The crowd dynamic is truly excellent at this point with the front of the room engaged in pretty much non-stop mosh and circle pit action, so when Lou shares the mic with people up front for "DNC" things just get crazier.

Sick Of It All singer Lou Koller

We're about halfway through their 22-song setlist, and almost everyone is banging their heads, participating in the pits, or just having a bloody good time based on a quick glance across the venue. It makes sense, as Sick Of It All are firing great songs at us with extremely few pauses in between, thus upholding an awesome tempo and energy throughout, not an easy feat to do during a Sunday show. Lou's charismatic in-between song banter makes him come across as one of those super-friendly grandpas with great stories to share as he jokes around with a massive smile on his face throughout the night. "This one's a favorite, a big hit...but we only have hits anyway, right?", he says, right before the band shoot into another highlight song "Sanctuary". Similar banter spices up the brief pauses between songs all night long: "If this doesn't move you, you have no heart...this is a New York Hardcore breakdown, show us what you've got!", he eggs the audience on just before "Get Bronx", further cementing his persona as exceptionally charming and likable. He's not lacking in charisma either: he's able to split the entire room from literally front to back into two halves for "Scratch The Surface", which I've personally never witnessed at Lille Vega in the past, where a violent wall-of-death implosion transforms the entire venue into something resembling a riot.

Sick Of It All - more airtime

People are chanting along, moshing like it's a Friday night show, and the energy present at the venue is nothing short of fantastic. The band plow through "Never Back Down" (played for the first time live ever, by the way), "Step Down" (massive chant-along), "Outgunned", and "Friends Like You" before asking us if we'd like to hear one or two more? "SEVEN MORE" shouts someone from the audience, which Koller just laughs off before they finish the set with "Good Lookin' Out" and "Us Vs. Them", which features the biggest woo-hoo sing along tonight. At the end of the day, Sick Of It All have shown us once again why they are considered hardcore royalty and one of the very best live bands this genre has to offer. Unstoppable energy and brilliant, piercingly raw hardcore songs that rightly qualify as generational anthems. Had this been a full-crowd show on a Friday or Saturday night, there's little doubt the rating could've moved up a full grade. But even with less-than-optimal conditions, Lou Koller's crew prove their worth.

Setlist:

  • 1. Uprising Nation
  • 2. Machete
  • 3. Road Less Traveled
  • 4. Clobberin' Time
  • 5. Injustice System
  • 6. World Full Of Hate
  • 7. Death Or Jail
  • 8. Sound The Alarm
  • 9. My Life
  • 10. Take The Night Off
  • 11. DNC
  • 12. Sanctuary
  • 13. Get Bronx
  • 14. Busted
  • 15. Call To Arms
  • 16. Scratch The Surface
  • 17. Never Back Down
  • 18. Step Down
  • 19. Outgunned
  • 20. Friends Like You
  • 21. Good Lookin' Out
  • 22. Us Vs. Them

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIX Rockfreaks.net.