Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
We expected the Voodoo Lounge to be quiet on this rainy Wednesday evening in Dublin, considering Mastodon and Vektor had been in town on Monday and Tuesday respectively and with it being the week after an expensive weekend at Bloodstock festival for many Irish fans of heavy music. Happily, we were very wrong, and a bustling crowd have gathered in the recently revamped venue.
It‘s less than 18 months since Hardcore legends Sick Of It All played on this very stage, and their current visit is part of an extensive 30-year celebration that saw them in Limerick yesterday, and will see them play in the U.K., North America and Central Europe over the coming days, weeks and months.
Once again, support is provided by promising Irish bands. First up are Dublin-based hardcore five-piece Breed The Killers, followed by Cork-based four-piece Bailer. We arrive just as Bailer kick off their set, but many of the gathered crowd are hesitant to approach the stage despite the repeated efforts of vocalist Alex O’Leary encouraging them to do so. Although they only formed in early 2015, the band show the confidence and calibre expected from more established acts. With a seven-track high-octane setlist featuring all tracks from their debut EP Shaped By The Landscape, the Cork lads spend thirty minutes giving their all to entertain the stubborn audience. Deserving a better reaction than they received, this is a band that we look forward to seeing again, and Cork fans won’t have long to wait as they are rumoured to support Raging Speedhorn in Crane Lane next month.
As the time draws near for Sick Of It All to take their places, the previously reluctant audience now eagerly secure spots at the foot of the recently elongated stage. The New Yorkers make their way from the basement dressing rooms through the waiting crowd and immediately let it loose with ‘Take The Night Off’ from their 2006 album Death To Tyrants. From the very start, the fans go crazy and the stage diving and crowd surfing begin within seconds. The set continues with two tracks from their debut 1989 album Blood, Sweat and No Tears, namely ‘Injustice System’ and ‘Clobberin’ Time’. As testament to the longevity of this seminal record, they go on to perform at least three more tracks from the album before the night is out.
Frontman Lou Koller promises to play some “old stuff, some new stuff, and everything in between”, and true to his word, we are treated to about twenty tracks from a wide cross section of their back catalogue including ‘Road Less Traveled’ and ‘DNC’ (Do Not Comply) from their most recent 2014 release The Last Act of Defiance. Meanwhile his brother Pete Koller charges around the podium like a wind-up toy, bouncing and jumping from side to side. Even for a hardcore band, these guys (who can’t be far off fifty years of age) would put many a teenager to shame in terms of the sheer energy levels and enthusiastic commitment during their sixty minutes on stage. And they’ve been doing this for thirty years!
When Lou asks the audience for song suggestions, he is inundated with replies from the loyal gathering before him, leading him to joke “Too bad we’re not Bruce Springsteen and play for four hours!”. He later gives them a choice between hearing ‘Sanctuary’ from their 1999 album Call To Arms or ‘Pushed Too Far’ from Blood, Sweat and No Tears, but the response is a resounding vote for the former. Throughout the entire sixty minute performance, fans repeatedly climb upon the stage and promptly dive back onto a sea of willing up-stretched arms (sometimes without the up stretched arms). The moshing and slamming continue, as loyal fans sing along to the lyrics and the excitement and enjoyment is evident both in the crowd and on the stage. A high-energy explosive event from start to finish. Catch ’em if you can.