What is better than seeing IDLES deliver an insane set at a packed venue? Getting to do it two nights in a row of course! After the show on Friday night, I was on such a high and would have been satisfied with just that, but I definitely was not going to say no to seeing/shooting them again the next night. It’s a special band that floors you with a performance and doesn’t make you feel like “oh I saw that already, I can wait til next tour to do it again.” Not only was that the case for IDLES, but also openers Gustaf, who I had stuck in my head all the next day as I was shooting a private event, anxious to get back to the gig to see them again. I can say I was just as hyped when I walked into the venue on Night Two as I was on Night One. (See pics/write up from Night One here)
Both bands again absolutely dominated in their sets, not even showing the slightest bit of fatigue from having done it just 24 hours earlier. The crowd was again in fairly early so many people got to see and experience Gustaf (presumably) for the first time and if the line at their merch table after the show was any indication, they absolutely made a slew of new fans. When IDLES took to the stage, the crowd was already buzzing excitedly and as the opening bass chords of “Colossus” hit, things began to build in increasing intensity until the break in the song. As the “ONE! TWO!” was yelled and the fast portion of it set in, the energy in the room just absolutely shattered and exploded into a brilliant burst of jubilation that did not abate the entire time the band was on stage.
They kept the setlist close to what they played the first night, though re-arranged the order slightly and omitted “Danke.” And for those lucky enough to be there on Saturday, in addition to getting a taste of new single “The Beachland Ballroom,” and the song they debuted live the night before, “Car Crash,” fans also got to hear “The Wheel,” another as-of-yet unreleased song from the upcoming album, Crawler (due out 11/12). “Car Crash” has a definite hip hop flair to it while “The Wheel” has a lot of that early IDLES feel to it, the pounding presence of drummer Jon Beavis and bassist Adam “Dev” Devonshire on full display (AKA one of the best rhythm sections in the game, period).
Listen to the new songs below:
I often wax on and on about DIY in this blog a lot and how important it is to me, as regular readers are well aware. IDLES are for sure well beyond that stage of things, but they did indeed emerge from this world in the UK. I unfortunately was unaware of them until 2018 so I completely missed that stage of their career including some of their earlier smaller shows in NYC which were in 200 cap rooms. (Our webmistress, Jenifun, lives in the UK and was very lucky to have experienced much more of the early shows in and around Bristol.) And yet even with the band now regularly selling out larger venues in major markets, including back to back nights at Terminal 5 (which is a 2800 cap venue so hardly small or intimate), they make you FEEL like you are in a small and intimate setting. If you just read things based on the energy in the room and the very tangible mutual love from artist to audience, you could close your eyes and be fooled into thinking you are in a 100 cap room or even someone’s basement for a true DIY show experience.
That really is such a rare feat for a band to be able to play on bigger stages, yet still engage so strongly with their fans as they move up through the industry. It always means a lot to me as a fan and as someone so deeply invested in DIY/punk/independent rock culture (whatever words you want to ascribe to it really) to see bands still trying and making these connections a part of their regular practices. It can’t be easy as you are playing to bigger and bigger crowds — which of course comes with bigger and bigger expectations — but it can be felt and seen by those who know what to look for.
So yes, IDLES may be playing huge shows now, but it is crystal clear they haven’t turned their back on their roots and care very deeply about the people who come to see them play. They again invited a fan up to sing on “I’m Scum,” and while this fan didn’t nail every lyric like the person on night one did, it was no matter, singer Joe Talbot jumped in to help and the enthusiasm was for sure felt. Talbot again thanked the fans (this is something he does multiple times per show in my experience and it really feels genuine and not at all like lip service) and said that being in New York felt like home, continuing “We dance like idiots because it makes us feel free and beautiful” and thanked the fans for allowing them to have that, “This is the best job in the world. I feel like a prick calling it a job to be honest.”
IDLES at Terminal 5
In keeping with their closing tradition, they finished the night again with “Rottweiler,” Talbot saying “THIS IS AN ANTI FASCIST SONG!” as the members of Gustaf came back to the stage and an all out frenzy ensued. Strobes flashed, instruments pounded, fans screamed, and the roof almost seemed like it would shoot right off the building, barely able to contain the beautiful mayhem below it. I didn’t just want to be at these shows because I love seeing/shooting live bands and love the particular bands that were playing these shows, which I surely do. No, after a tough year and a half for us all and a hard month for me on a personal level, I needed these shows for my soul. Thank you IDLES and Gustaf for that healing salve to my heart.
Scroll down to see pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)