Sick Of It All
with Boy Sets Fire, Death By Stereo, and The Hope Conspiracy
The Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando, FL • May 10, 2001
As I stood in line outside of the Sapphire, the gathering of kids seemed to stretch for miles down the busy city street. The sheer number of kids covered in tattoos, clad in bandanas, and pushing each other as hard as they could served as a testament to the growing popularity of hardcore music. Everyone anticipated an evening of chaos and aggressive music, and I don’t think that anyone staggered home disappointed.
The Hope Conspiracy kicked off an energetic and sometimes violent show. Once they started, the noise didn’t let up. The band succeeds at blending heavy, eardrum shattering guitar with minor, disturbing emo breakdowns. The kids happily pounded each other to oblivion and didn’t stop during the band’s short set.
After the tortured beauty of The Hope Conspiracy, Death By Stereo seemed pretty straightforward. The lead singer was absolutely insane, with an unspiked pink mohawk and a possessed look in his eyes. He worked the crowd into a frenzy by throwing himself into the churning masses. My favorite song from their set was “Desperation Train.” The band starts by trading off beat, chaotic vocals, and eventually the song resolves into a sing-along chorus, similar to the style of AFI.
I knew that many of the people at that show looked forward to Boy Sets Fire, but I really didn’t understand the hype. The band is super serious, discussing politics in between songs and explaining the deep, philosophical meanings behind the songs. Musically, Boy Sets Fire simply produced a giant wall of heavy noise, broken up by the occasional sample or lighter interlude. They played just a little too long for my taste.
I guess all the hardcore kids were too cool to stay for Sick Of It All, because the bandana and tattoo crowd cleared out right after Boy Sets Fire. They missed the best part of the night, in my opinion. The lead singer, Lou Koller, is a skinny, unassuming sort of guy, but man, can he scream. SOIA can be better described as hardcore punk, because even though the music is quite heavy, not everything is screamed and the crowd could sing along. Political songs dominated much of SOIA’s set, but the occasional relationship song provided a welcome change.
SOIA stayed feisty and defiant for the rest of the evening. Lots of middle fingers and sneers from the crowd greeted Koller after every song title. Statements like “This song is called ‘Why Relationships Suck!'” garnered much appreciation from the gathered mass. After a long evening of hardcore pandemonium, the kids staggered out onto the street, bruised but happy. I think a lot of hardcore bands today can take a few lessons from SOIA.