Turnstile tore up Elsewhere with Ekulu, Blair & Dog Date (pics, review)
After 17 months of no shows, you might wonder if a band would have some rust to shake off, especially if they've got new material that they weren't able to road-test. But in the case of Turnstile's show at Elsewhere in Brooklyn last night (8/23), the opposite was true. They came out bursting with all the energy they'd pent up over the past year and a half; they seemed like they couldn't wait to introduce the crowd to the new material, and the crowd followed suit. They opened up with recent single "Mystery" -- only their second time ever performing it (after an outdoor hometown show in Baltimore on Saturday, 8/21) -- and it already felt like they were playing a classic. The band was going harder than I'd ever seen them (and Turnstile never don't go hard), and the extremely packed venue broke out into a sea of moving bodies, with countless fists in the air, and nearly everyone screaming along.
Turnstile did a good job of mixing it up between songs off their new album Glow On and earlier faves, playing all seven currently released songs from the new album, and there wasn't a single moment when the crowd wasn't yelling the words back in Turnstile's faces, even though the album isn't actually out until this Friday (8/27). (Though technically it's out now, as the band are selling physical copies at their merch table.) They hit just about every major fan fave from throughout their career ("Real Thing," "Fazed Out," "Generator," "Blue By You," "Keep It Moving," "I Don't Wanna Be Blind," etc), and those were of course heavy hitters, but the new material really felt like the winner of the night. It was very apparent throughout the show that Turnstile are determined to keep pushing forward, and that their fans are coming with them.
Even more so than 2018's Time & Space, Glow On uses the studio as an instrument and continues to push the boundaries of hardcore or departs from it completely. Some songs, like the brief "No Surprise," don't even use guitars, bass, or drums. But even as they become experimental studio wizards, they stay true to their hardcore roots on stage, always making sure the live show is a pure adrenaline rush. Even their softest songs, like the very not-hardcore "Alien Love Call," were full of energy.
Before Turnstile took the stage, we were treated to three very good, very different openers, all of which Turnstile vocalist Brendan Yates referred to as some of his favorite bands. First up were NJ psychedelic garage punks Dog Date, who released their new album Child's Play on Pop Wig (co-run by members of Turnstile) earlier this year. In the studio, it's the solo project of Dylan Kennedy, but live it's a five-piece band, including two drummers and a charismatic guitarist who dueled out twin leads with Dylan throughout the night, and they were a ton of fun.
Next up was rising NYC band Blair, who are fresh off releasing their very good Tears To Grow EP. They remind me of spacious, slow-burning emo bands like Mineral and TWIABP, and similar to early TWIABP shows, Blair's set seemed like it could fall apart at any moment, but it never did, and they have a hypnotic vibe that hooks you from start to finish. All four members sing (and their drummer briefly rapped), each with their own distinct personalities, and sometimes they would trade off vocal duties mid-line. With visuals projected on stage behind them and samples between songs, they created a vibe that felt more like a journey than a series of songs. You can also catch Blair playing a set on our livestream show on Vans Channel 66 this Thursday (8/26) at 11 AM ET.
Last up before Turnstile was Ekulu, the tight-as-fuck New York crossover thrash band who just dropped their debut LP Unscrew My Head on Cash Only Records this past June. The pit opened up the second Ekulu hit their first note, and their set stayed on a high the entire time. The band share members with Candy and Ecostrike, and their sound owes as much to pioneering crossover thrashers like Cro-Mags (whose shirt was being repped by Ekulu's lead guitarist) as it does to more recent torch-carriers like Power Trip (whose late frontman Riley Gale Ekulu dedicated their set to). Their chugs are as crisp and bludgeoning as they come, the solos scream, and their vocalist barks and stomps around the stage like a seasoned hardcore frontman.
Our photographer missed Dog Date but pictures of the other three bands continue below (including one of Turnstile's setlist). Turnstile's tour continues at NYC's Irving Plaza on Wednesday (8/25) (rescheduled from Sunday and sold out), and they'll be back in NYC when their tour opening for $uicideboy$ hits The Rooftop at Pier 17 on October 7 with Chief Keef and more (tickets). Glow On comes out Friday (8/27) via Roadrunner.
photos by Annette Rodriguez