No fancy lights. No stage show. Just backdrops and the same DIY energy that put these bands on this stage. Sick Of It All have curated a bill of pure hardcore and tonight, it hits Glasgow.
Grove Street Families are up first; hurt though, by a very early stage time of 6.20 pm. They have a more metal-infused style with hulking, downtuned riffs. However, as people still trickle inside the venue, they don’t make a huge impact.
The more experienced Comeback Kid try to lift the room’s energy. Frontman Andrew Neufeld spends most of the set at the barrier, engaging directly with the pocket of rabid fans at the front. One or two older songs threaten to spread this fever, but by and large the audience are still left wanting.
Some poor sound may have plagued Cancer Bats’ introduction, but this is one of the most reliable live bands in heavy music, so we need fear not. Magnetic frontman Liam Cormier doesn’t sound his usual savage best initially, but the whole band grow into the set more and Glasgow truly feels connected with the spirit of hardcore for the first time this evening. Classics like Lucifer’s Rocking Chair help liven things up.
Interestingly, Wade MacNeil of Alexisonfire and Gallows fame is filling in on guitar and rather than just playing the riffs straight, he tunes his guitar differently which adds a different flavour to some of the tracks. Everyone now seems suitably warmed up and as Hail Destroyer comes to a close, the crowd are ready to pay tribute to one of the most influential bands hardcore has ever known.
So few bands on this planet look as if they are having as much fun on stage as Sick Of It All, particularly bands that have been playing shows for over three decades. Guitarist Pete Koller whirls around the stage while brother Lou declares, ‘We don’t sing too pretty, is that cool?’ It’s cool, Lou. They blast through a setlist jam-packed with songs from their late 80s debut to their most recent effort, Wake The Sleeping Dragon! They have an infectious energy and seem thrilled as the moshpit grows and grows. Their best days may well be behind them but they beautifully capture what is so special about this brand of music. They don’t need a sold out Hydro to put a smile on their face. All they need, even after all this time, is a passionate crowd who hold the old school hardcore values dear.