Turnstile took over NYC for 2 shows, 1 w/ surprise guest Blood Orange (pics, review + Fallon video)
You really gotta see it live to get it. I mean, you don't have to -- Turnstile's Glow On was our favorite album of 2021 off the strength of the studio recordings alone -- but as masterful as that album is, you don't get the full picture until you step foot into a Turnstile show. The band welcomed the album's release back in August with a few killer release shows just days before it was officially released, including two in NYC, and they returned here to open for $uicideboy$ at Pier 17 in October, but it took them nine long months to finally bring their proper headlining Glow On tour to NYC, and these shows offered up a cathartic release that you simply can't get anywhere else.
Turnstile (who currently have Take Offense's Greg Cerwonka filling in on guitar for Brady Ebert) first announced that their NYC stop would be at Brooklyn Steel on Monday, May 23, and after that show sold out in seconds, they added an even bigger NYC show happening at the Knockdown Center in Queens on Sunday, May 22, which had been long sold out as well. I'd been to shows at Knockdown Center before, but none as packed as this. Often times the stage is moved up to make the cavernous warehouse seem a little smaller, but for Turnstile, it was pushed all the way back against the wall, with a crowd that stretched almost all the way back to the bar at the end of the room. It felt more like a music festival's crowd than a club show, and like at many music festivals, I found myself hundreds of feet back from the stage -- not a place you expect to be at a "hardcore show." Still, right after the crowd finished singing along to Turnstile's latest walkout song, Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," the opening synth notes of "Mystery" played over the PA, then Turnstile crashed into the song's thunderous power chords, and the entire room collectively lost their minds at once. It didn't matter how far back you were; everyone around you was moving and yelling every word, and Turnstile made that massive warehouse feel intimate.
After "Mystery" died down, frontman Brendan Yates yelled out, "Can I keep it all together?! Waiting for the real thing!" and the crowd was screaming along to the Time & Space opener even before the song kicked in for real. Brendan did a similar trick later on when he led the crowd in an a cappella singalong of "Underwater Boi" before the band started that one, and just about every single person in the room belted at the top of their lungs. Turnstile are now big enough to pull these kinds of things off with ease; it's truly inspiring to see.
Throughout Turnstile's 50-ish minute set, they ran through 11 of Glow On's 15 songs, and they made room for a few choice older cuts too. The aforementioned "Real Thing" was followed by "Big Smile" from that same album, and later, Turnstile teased "Come Back for More" before going into three songs from Nonstop Feeling ("Fazed Out," "Drop," "Blue by You") and one from Step 2 Rhythm ("Canned Heat"). Near the end of the set, Brendan turned the mic over to bassist Franz Lyons for "Moon" from Time & Space. Glow On raised the band's profile significantly, and I'm sure plenty of people in attendance got into Turnstile during this album cycle, but there wasn't a single song that the huge crowd didn't go crazy for. "Real Thing," "Moon," and "Blue by You" sparked singalongs on par with the Glow On songs. And even if you didn't know the words to the older stuff, everyone in the room could dance to "Drop."
And as you'd hope and expect, when the Glow On songs did hit, the place went off. In under three minutes, "Blackout" turned the place from a screamalong hardcore show into a polyrhythmic dance-off. "Don't Play" opened up the pit for about 15 seconds until everyone settled into its kinetic groove. The "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"s in "Endless" were loud enough to shake the venue's walls. Softer songs like "Underwater Boi" and "Alien Love Call" were as full of energy as the ragers. Brendan told the crowd he needed them for penultimate track "Holiday" -- not that he needed to -- and we were happy to provide. And how do you end a show where you've already played all your biggest crowdpleasers? With the high-speed circle pit fuel of "T.L.C." of course!
After "T.L.C.," they let another one of their synth interludes ring out over the PA for those who needed a comedown, but as a band who come from -- and are still loyal to -- the hardcore community, it's no surprise that they didn't do an encore. I think everyone in that room would've loved them to keep going, but instead, they left you with the best feeling a show can you leave you with: wanting to see them again as soon as possible.
Fortunately, for those able to get tickets to both shows, "as soon as possible" was the very next night at Brooklyn Steel, and Turnstile made us feel alive all over again. It was the very same setlist with the same walkout song, teases, and crowd instigations. Sometimes multi-night runs demand setlist variation, but seeing the same set twice in a row just gave me those same cathartic feelings all over again. (I'd see it a third night if I could!) Brooklyn Steel did get one surprise though: Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) made a surprise appearance for his duet with Brendan on "Alien Love Call"! Video of that amazing moment is below.
Over the course of Turnstile's two nights, they had six different openers, and it was a very diverse cast. First up at Knockdown Center was Special Interest, the New Orleans post-punk band that released their first single for Rough Trade just days before the show. As good as that single (and Special Interest's earlier material) is, you gotta see them live to get it too. Alli Logout is a commanding frontperson whose power is only hinted at on the records. In between their nervy post-punk and Turnstile's sheer force, Brooklyn indie popsters Beach Fossils toned things down with something a little more dreamy and ethereal.
Those two openers were exclusive to the Knockdown Center show, but the Brooklyn Steel show had the same four openers as the rest of the tour, and it was clear that this whole tour had become family. First up were Turnstile's Baltimore neighbors Truth Cult (who are/were signed to Turnstile's Pop Wig Records) and they kicked the show off with a bang with a 20-minute set that pulled from hardcore, post-hardcore, punk, post-punk, and more, casually defying genre the way Turnstile and their other Baltimore pals do. They have members who have been in Give, Red Death, Pure Disgust, Post Pink, and other bands, and they're led by the totally magnetic and charismatic Paris Roberts, who not only has a great shout but who was a thrill to watch on stage. Everyone else in the band is full of energy too, and Paris' aggressive vocals are offset by bassist Emily Ferrara's more melodic singing, which added in yet another unique ingredient to their multi-faceted sound.
After Truth Cult were New York crossover thrashers Ekulu, who also opened Turnstile's Elsewhere show back in August. They've gotten even tighter since then, and put on one of the most fun sets of the night. Paris Roberts also shouted them out a bunch of times during Truth Cult's set, rocked out side stage for their entire set, and joined them on vocals for a few songs too. Ekulu were followed by Ceremony, who in their 15+ years as a band have gone from powerviolence to garage punk to gothy post-punk to dancey new wave and beyond, and they pulled from all of their eras in a way that felt entirely seamless. Their sound may have changed a lot over the years, but their attitude has remained consistent, and that tied it all together. The last band before Turnstile was Citizen, who hit the stage with enough energy and confidence to be the headliners. Citizen's music has also gone through a lot of changes over the years, and they kept this set primarily to newer material, including choice cuts from 2021's dance-punk-infused Life In Your Glass World and their rippin' new single "Bash Out." They did reach back to 2013's Youth for "Roam the Room" and "The Summer" -- songs that pass for emo-scene classics at this point -- but they never relied on nostalgia for the old stuff. The new songs carried the set.
Turnstile's tour continues in Philly tonight (5/24) and then wraps up with two DC shows. Citizen and Ceremony also have their own shows without Turnstile at Long Island's Amityville Music Hall on Wednesday (5/25) (sold out) and NJ's Asbury Lanes on Friday (5/27) (tickets). After that, Citizen open Joyce Manor's summer tour.
While in NYC, Turnstile hit The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for a killer rendition of "Blackout," and Nardwuar just released his new interview with the band. Watch the Nardwuar video here. Watch the Fallon video and check out pictures by Amanda Hatfield, videos, and the setlist from the NYC shows below...
Come Back for More (tease)
Blue by You
ALIEN LOVE CALL
T. L. C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION)
Ceremony @ Brooklyn Steel - 5/23/22 Setlist (via)
The Doldrums (Friendly City)
Vanity Spawned By Fear
(Red C cover)
Presaging the End
Turn Away the Bad Thing
Citizen @ Brooklyn Steel - 5/23/22 Setlist (via)
Death Dance Approximately
Let Me Out
Roam the Room
I Want to Kill You
Beach Fossils @ Knockdown Center - 5/22/22 Setlist (via)
What a Pleasure
Burn You Down
Down the Line