Unlike its California equivalent, New York hard-core punk has only superficial resemblance to pop: no melodies, no engaging Paul McCartney bass lines, no fun fashion, no cute bass players.
New York punk songs are rarely gems in need of a little polish, ready to be tubbed and scrubbed into MTV Buzz Bin favorites. When New York punk bands sell out, it tends to be in the direction of old-fashioned thrash metal, which doesn’t exactly get them into the pages of People.
Yet with Green Day atop the charts, Rancid on the tube and record deals in the offing for every Cali punk-rock dude who ever spat on a cop, it was inevitable that expectations turned to New York, the other great incubator of punk.
At a half-filled Palace on Thursday, Sick of It All, the last pure New York punk band left standing, featured pretty much everything you used to expect from a stripped-down hard-core show--grinding, monolithic guitar and bass, post-polka-beat drums and a singer screaming what sounded like nihilist political slogans overhead.
If you were nostalgic for those 10-band hard-core shows that rocked the Olympic Auditorium a decade ago, Sick of It All may have been just the ticket. The band put out a lot of energy, mostly of the jutted-elbows, bulging-vein-in-the-forehead sort, but the audience members mostly had their arms folded over their chests, and the mosh pit was just lukewarm.