Friday, October 22nd was one of those days that absolutely drained me. I left Nashville around 8 o’clock in the morning to drive four and a half hours to the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta. It would be an understatement to say that, by the end of the evening, I was completely exhausted. Anyone who has ever attended a festival will tell you that energy conservation is one of the first rules. I completely threw that rule out the window Friday afternoon, though. With all the strength I had left in me, I made my way to Masquerade for a late night show, featuring the legendary IDLES and art punk newcomers Gustaf.
The lights went down and feedback hummed prior to Gustaf exploding into their first song.
Even though it wasn’t, it had all the elements of an improv comedy drag show, mixed with rhythmic punk music you could dance to. There were rubber chickens, furry hats, flutes and tear-away pants. Lead singer Lydia Gammil looked as if she was scolding the crowd for even showing up. It was a phenomenal performance from start to finish, with her blonde hair flying about as she aggressively yelled over hypnotic beats. The crowd went absolutely nuts! This band is an avantgarde masterpiece and I was beyond delighted to finally see what all the hype is about. If you haven’t already, be sure to give their latest album, Audio Drag For Ego Slobs, a spin — it’s awesome!
I had already forgotten about how tired I was by the time the roadies were setting up the stage. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins and even though my legs hurt, I was fully ready to embrace what was about to happen next. “Let’s go, IDLES!” rang out over and over again in anticipation for what would ultimately be one of the greatest live shows I have ever seen. Singer Joe Talbot paced around a small circle in the middle of the stage as the first notes of “Colossus” thundered through the venue. He moved back and forth like a boxer, fixated on strategically knocking out his opponent… the crowd seemingly the target of his rage. Never before have I witnessed such energy from a band. Guitarist Lee Kiernan spent more time in the crowd than he did onstage. Imagine getting the crap beaten out of you without even being touched; that is the best description I can give about what I witnessed that night. IDLES was absolutely brutal, playing what I would consider a perfect setlist from beginning to end: everything from their latest hit “Grounds” to the classic “Never Fight A Man With A Perm”. They even included two songs from their upcoming album Crawler, set for release November 12th. In my humble opinion, IDLES is one of the best bands in existence today. I think everyone who enjoys heavy music should see them at least once! 10/10
Photography by Derek Jones