Sick Of It All/the Suicide Machines/The Distillers - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)

Sick Of It All / the Suicide Machines / The Distillers

live in Chicago (2002)

live show

Last Friday I went to one of the most diverse punk shows i've been to in a long time. Every band that was on this bill has their own unique sound and stage presence. From the 77' style punk of the Distillers, to the ska/punk of the Suicide Machines, and the Metal/Hardcore of Sick of it All, none of these bands sounded the same. Not only were the bands unique, but each band brought their own set of fans with them, which added to the diverse nature of the crowd. In attendance that night were people dressed in the classic punk, skater punk, rudie, skinhead, hardcore, and just some normal looking people. Yet, while their many different clothing styles and musical tastes going on, there was no conflict, everybody seemed to be reveling in the feeling of unity that was spread through out the crowd, and even commented on by members of the bands. Both the Suicide Machines and Sick of it All talked about the diverse line up and how no matter what, punk, hardcore, ska, and even emo were all from the same family, and that we are all messed up and dealing with it in our own way. I thought that these expressions of unity were really great to hear. With all the in scene bitching and whining, I'm glad some people realize that its still one scene and would rather concern themselves with the similarities rather than the minute differences.

First up was Shai Hulud, unfortunately I missed them but between the early start time (6:30), and rush hour traffic, I really didn't have a chance. I had to wait for my girlfriend to get off work, come home and change and then drive into the city, which takes around about 45 minutes to an hour without traffic, but of course we got stuck in line for the toll booth for about 30 minutes. Sorry I missed them, but some of us have to work, why can't they start shows later, at least a 7 or 8, it would make things a lot easier for people to get to shows.

Next was the Distillers, playing their no holds bar brand of punk rock. This is a band that I've been wanting to see for sometime. While I only got there for the second part of the set, I could tell they were ripping the place apart. Brody was attacking the guitar while the kids in the pit were going nuts, putting on a good sized pit for so early in the show. They played a good mix off both of their albums. All in all I wish I had seen the whole thing, lots of energy and a passion for playing, and the fuck you attitude that makes punk great.

The Suicide Machines came on stage next. When I first heard about this tour I thought this must be their attempt to rebuild their hardcore image from the self titled disk. While this may be the case, I still was really excited to see them. I have only seen Suicide Machines once before and that was at Warped 2000, so I was excited at seeing them in a smaller club. They came out in full energy and began pounding away with one great song after another, playing mostly from Destruction by Definition and Battle Hymns, with a couple from Steal This Record thrown in here and there, not surprisingly nothing from the self titled was played. The singer spent most of his time leaning into the crowd and standing on the barricade encouraging the crowd to sing along. During the set he made all the ska kids their come to the middle of the pit during one of the heavy ska songs from DFD and dance, and then suddenly launched into a more hardcore song from BH, which of course lead to a large pit. Suicide Machines played a great set that included most of my favorites, SOS, Break the Glass, Islands, Scars, and Hating Hate. The singer put a lot of energy into his vocals, by jumping around, getting the crowd involved, and screaming his heart out during the hardcore parts. The Suicide Machines are definetly a band to go see live, especially in a smaller club. The only problem I had with the set was I thought it was way too short.

Not many people could fall asleep to Sick of it All, but my girlfriend sure can, but I think that was due to the beers she had been pounded during Suicide Machines, rather than the lack of energy coming from the stage. Sick of it All actually put on a great show, the whole band was moving around and got everyone in the crowd hyped up and singing along. I had never really gotten into them before, I always thought they were too metalish for my tastes, but after seeing them live, I think I'm ready to give SOIA another listen. Their were definetly a lot of SOIA fans in attendance that night, as evident by the number of shirts and dragon tattoos that were present, and the singing and chanting along that came with every song. The singer had a great stage presence encouraging the singing along and only taking a couple of breaks from singing to introduce the songs or give some hilarious stage banter. At one point, after somebody up front showed him his dragon tattoo, he said that is one reason why they don't write poppy shit like Blink, that if they did hundreds of guys would have to go and get their tattoos covered up. He said, millions of dollars or guys with tattoos of our logos, well gee its not that hard of a choice. Plus he said they didn't know how to write those types of songs. After a few more songs he expressed his feelings about the tour and the sense of unity that he felt playing with all these different types of bands. He said that everyone on the tour and in the audience was fucked up in some way and that they were all dealing with it in a different but positive way. I thought that was great the expression of unity for the scene and not trashing a band from being different from what you play or like. He then wanted the crowd to feel the warmth and love that the bands were feeling, so he split the crowd down the middle and had each side run into each other and hug. It was great watching the chaos that followed. Sick of it All were a great way to finish up the evening, loud, fast, and a ton of fun to watch. I am definitely going to give these guys another listen and hope to see them sometime in the future.

This is really one of the more diverse tours that is out there right now, but don't let that scare you away. All of these bands are awesome live, giving the crowd tons of energy and keeping everyone entertained. The only problem I had with this show, besides the early start time was that the sets were so short. Especially Distillers and Suicide Machines felt like they had no time to play. Other than that it was a really good time.