I cheated. I listened to Idles a bit before the show on Thursday night. Going into shows blind is one of my favorite things to do but something about the anticipation for the Idles show had me super curious so I took a listen. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love it. I didn’t get the hype around the band and instantly regretted not choosing one of the other amazing shows happening in town on Thursday but I had committed so all I could do was pray that Idles lived up to everything I had ever heard about their live show.
NYC-based Gustaf kicked things off as the sole opener of the night. As soon as they kicked into their set, I was captivated. There was something so creative, so artsy, and oh so very weird about this band and I just couldn’t seem to get enough of it. From a rubber chicken and a Cafe Bustelo can being used as percussion instruments to vocalist Lydia Gammill’s truly chaotic stage presence… honestly, Gustaf has left me lost for words. Much like my first listen of Idles’ music, the music Gustaf struck me as not my favorite but their live show absolutely sold me on their groove and other-worldly abstract punk sounds. I really wish I had more to say about this interesting and intriguing band but, again, I just find myself completely lost for the correct words to describe their set. What I can say is that Gustaf is a band that you just have to see live and I am already anxiously awaiting the announcement of another Twin Cities show from these guys.
As mentioned, I knew very little about Idles walking into The Palace Theatre on Thursday and, what I did know, had me a bit confused. Their live shows are legendary (or so I had been told) and everyone seems to have this super deep connection with their music but, after listening to a few tracks before the show, I just didn’t see it, hear it, or get it. The band has been around since 2009 so they must be doing something right, right? Well, the moment of truth– after a stage changeover that seemed to take a bit too long for the anticipation in the air throughout the sold-out audience, Idles took the stage to a deafening roar of applause and cheering.
“Split the crowd. Split. The. Crowd. Hold. Hold.” That’s all that vocalist Joe Talbot said as the four other members of this Bristol, England-based band kicked into “Colossus”. There was something threatening about the way Talbot said it to the crowd but also something amazing. There was an undeniable energy that took over the entire theatre and I watched as the audience did their best to split down the middle but seemed to just not be able to contain themselves. A smile stretched from ear to ear as I notice that the audience literally could not split down the middle because people just could not stop moving. After finishing “Colossus”, Talbot finally gave the audience the go-ahead to move and, from there on out, the night turned into a beautiful and sweaty night of passion, energy, and emotion.
There are some bands where their recordings just do not do their music justice. Idles is one of those bands. I felt like I was listening to a completely different band than the one I had playing while I worked during the day on Thursday and I was loving what I was hearing. I’ve read up on Idles this morning and know that they absolutely hate being called a punk band of any sort so I won’t go there. Instead, let’s just say that their music is emotionally charged, lyrically driven moments of chaos sprinkled with glimpses of pure beauty and passion. Screw it, whether they want to be called punk or not, it’s really the closest thing I can compare them to but, I’d agree, they aren’t straight-up punk, post-punk, or anything else. Idles has really formed their own brand, their own sound, and my words will never do that justice so I’ll just stop there.
I could go on for days about all of the amazing moments that made up Idles’ show on Thursday night. I could write about all of the people I saw being lifted from crowd surfing and being helped out of the mess of general admission just to see them surfing again within seconds. Watching all of the members take turns jumping into the crowd to surf for a bit and just the sense of family that came with being lost in an audience full of people screaming every word… can you tell how much I loved every second of Idles’ show? I’ve been to a lot of shows since the shutdown ended but Idles absolutely took the prize for best live show post-covid. Hell, I may be so bold to say as they have the best live show I’ve seen since seeing Fever 333 in February of 2019.
I left the show last night feeling motivated, loved, and full of passion and admiration for not only Idles, but for myself. All of the hype around Idles’ live show is understated. Go see this band. It will absolutely change your life. Even if you’re like me and their recorded music does very little for you, go see them live- it will change everything and it will be a show that you never forget.