Band-Photo-Sick-Of-It-All-3@Newcastle Think Tank, January 30 2015

“Unity – who gives a shit? We’re here to have fun!” laughed Sick Of It All’s Lou Koller. 

It seems the frontman may have forgotten what the NYHC four-piece is all about during the evening’s performance. Their “us vs. them” attitude has resonated through the hardcore scene for almost 30 years, joining brothers and sisters of the underdogs in sweaty, gritty unison. He may have downplayed this idea of togetherness at first but the North East crowd proved he couldn’t be more wrong.

It may not be CBGBs, but Newcastle’s Think Tank served as a great modern setting for the night’s mayhem. The room’s intimacy and lack of barrier meant stage invasion was a must for the burly fist pumpers in the room, who became so chaotic that it wasn’t clear where was safer to be – in the midst of the aggressive circle pits or clambering for a space on the stage.

Frontman Koller and guitarist Pete Koller embraced the havoc, chanting arm in arm alongside anyone within reach. But bassist Craig Setari seemed to stay clear of the frenzied crowed – so much so that at one point he appeared to ignore a fan’s request to shake his hand.

As for delivering nothing short of ferocious and tight two-minute bursts of energy, SOIA have perfected the art over their years. Classics such as Clobberin’ Time, World Full of Hate and Good Lookin’ Out were as raw as they needed to be, and tracks from latest 2014 release The Last Act of Defiance were well-received.

Whilst the set drew to a close, Koller thanked the crowd for almost three decades of dedication. And as the amount of beer cups hitting the floor began to increase, so did the number of bodies that followed them. But not one person hesitated to help them back on their feet before thrashing themselves back into the crowd.

SOIA prove that age is no barrier and their shows will always focus on energy and bringing people together. And one thing’s for certain after the evening’s performance: in the world of hardcore punk – the latter will always be at the forefront.

Emma Carter