Sick of it All / Ensign / Indecision

Dudley JBs

February 22 1999

Missed most of Indecision as I arrived late after being delayed in the traffic resulting from a bit of an accident on the motorway. When I did arrive, I didn't really recognise them. I've heard the split EP with Knuckledust, and apparently they've changed the singer, and it all seemed heaver and slower than I remember. But as I only saw one song, I can't really judge.

Indecision in a way were your typical hardcore band. Honest and workmanlike without standing out for me. The vocalist apparently roadied for SOIA in the past, and so was at pains to thank the band for bringing him back to Europe. There was a song for the people who like the more metal style as well as the straightedge stuff, and there were some Metallica like chugs in there in places. Didn't elicit a great response, but there again, neither did VOD a couple of years ago when they supported SOIA in Bradford. And I bet they'd get a better response now.

It has to be said, I like SOIA. No, I love SOIA. Though I was apprehensive about them playing here, as Dudley doesn't attract the strongest crowds. And there was no Bradford gig, which every time I've seen them, has always been amazing. But, to my surprise, JBs was fuller than I've ever seen it for a gig.

The thing I love about SOIA is this. One : they have great music and actual songs. Sure, as Lou points out towards the end of the gig, "do you want us to play more? I mean, it's all fast, it's all shouty, it's all the same. Who gives a shit". But it's done with class. And the other, more important point is this. Hardcore prides itself on being unity and community. To nick a song title, it's Us Vs Them. But alot of the time, I'm unconvinced. It's seems like it's Clique Vs Them. But not with SOIA. Sure, I still feel out of place because it's a predominantly hardcore audience. But in Lou Koller, SOIA have a frontman who oozes the essence of this hardcore community thing. Energetic and everything during the music, fun, relaxed and enjoying himself between songs. It's good natured and fun. As one stage diver is stranded on stage at the end of a song, Lou looks, points, laughs, and then "you know the rules. If you're caught on stage when the song's over, you have to give that guy with the Dead Kennedys tattoo 5 quid." And every time somone is caught like that, he reminds them. It's a simple thing there, but it's like he's aware of what's going on, and what he's said, and creating this sense of fun. And as for Mr Metalhead me, I don't feel left out either. "Wheels of Steel? fuck that shit" he replies to one request, "now 20,000 ft, there's a song!." And later, "so whose happy about Bruce Dickinson getting back with Maiden?" he asks, to people on stage applauding, and quite a few people in the crowd doing so as well. "Let's just hope they do another Number of the Beast". You get the feeling that as much as it's tongue in cheek, it's also heartfelt. Acknowledgement that there is some kind of link between the genres. After all, isn't all hard or heavy music considered an Us Vs Them at some point. Same message, just different preachers.

Musically you get a bunch of stuff from the new album, "and if you don't like it, tough shit", such as Call To Arms, Potential For A Fall, Morally Confused, Falling Apart, Sanctuary and more. Some people seem not too keen on it, but given that it's only been out a few days, unfamiliarity might play a part. Personally I think it puts them back on track after the slightly disappointing Us Vs Them.

As ever, Scratch the Surface is well represented, with the title track rearing its groove ridden head early on, inspiring the first prolonged bout of stage diving, including some rather dodgy looking feet first ones. Never been convinced that's the safest way to dive, or the way to ensure you're caught. Mind you, neither is the way the one guy, who was caught on stage after a song did it. "My God, he just belly flopped on to the floor. He doesn't have to pay the five pounds".

"We've got the pervert from Bradford here tonight. Is there any other kind of person from Bradford?" asks Lou good naturedly. Like I said, they've done some awesome gigs there.

Luckily for me, my favourite SOIA song is still there. Consume.

"A part of you that will consume, if given the chance to. Apart of you, that will abuse, if ever allowed to ... when will you Come to terms with what's inside, Come to terms, with what you try to hide, Come to terms, with what's inside, Come to terms, with what you try to hide."

Step Down still gains one of the biggest reactions of the night, there's Closer, and more. And still Lou cajoles people, with those stood at the back coming in for some stick as well. Good natured though. And there's a dedication to aa couple that Lou found out are getting married. Aaaah. Ah yes, that sense of community. I still don't feel as though I belong to it, but it feels like I'm invited as close as possible through SOIA.

Lou thanks Indecision and Ensign. "There's plenty of shit for sale, go and buy some to help them out. But only after you've bought ours. That's the way it is." I'm sure some people might see that as sell out and profiteering. It's not. It's good natured fun and it's that which helps to make this such an amazing band.

As Injustice System and Maladjusted finish the set, it's only been an hour. But in that time, they've once more established themselves as the premier hardcore band for me. A great gig, though still not quite as great as Bradford on the Scratch The Surface and Us Vs Them tours. Now they were GREAT gigs.