Story and Photos: Haley Mullenix
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On Friday (9/2) I made my way to The Truman for the first time ever. It was also a first for the U.K. band IDLES. Last time they were in Kansas City was three years ago at Record Bar, a local venue with a capacity of around 300. Now they were back and had over doubled their venue size, selling out The Truman! Based here in the Crossroads District, the venue had the perfect backdrop, and pre-show stops with its brewpubs, retro bars, art alleys, and of course all the monthly First Friday events. I couldn’t help but wonder if the bands would get a chance to explore a little part of my city before jetting off to the next show. Currently IDLES is touring across 5 countries, many of their shows being sold out! So regardless if they got to explore the city, I knew the fans would give them a big welcome.
I've heard IDLES described as punk many times, but they themselves would disagree. Maybe that in itself is punk? One person even described them to me as, “artistic chaos.” I’d say their main focus is about not limiting themselves, and their fans seem to appreciate that sentiment. More than once this night, I was told IDLES reined as someone's favorite band. Many fans even traveled from surrounding states and further! This really got me excited, because I myself have traveled great distances to see my favorite bands. I felt connected and had a good understanding of the appreciation that was held, as well as energy that would be floating around inside.
A couple handfuls of dedicated fans gathered beyond the doors of the venue, where they eagerly waited until a small curtain would be drawn to reveal the main floor. I was surprised to see a large age range among fans. It ranged so vastly, that I wasn’t sure who dragged who along, the middle schooler or their grandparent! Either way, the energy was buzzing.
The lights overhead cast a reddish pink haze over the crowd. As more fans shuffled in and made their way to the bars and merch stands scattering the perimeter, the room started to feel reminiscent of a local house show. The room began to shrink and soon everybody was bustling into place. The lights dimmed and it was showtime!
Injury Reserve took control with a fog filled stage and a trembling bass line that shook the walls so heavily you could almost hear them buzzing! Straight from Arizona, they gave this not so punk show a futuristic hip hop feel with songs featuring artists like Rico Nasty and Amine. On top of this they had such a vibrant energy about them, and a great light show to complement their upbeat and even emotional tunes. The crowd was incredibly receptive despite the slight difference in sound from the band who would proceed them and Injury Reserve thanked them greatly. “It's amazing to go somewhere you've never been and still get accepted.” The crowd continued to thunder along with them as front man Ritchie with a T got everyone's arms up and swaying while Parker Corey hidden away in the fog, used what seemed to be a varying Abelton launchpad rig to create the beats. Together this duo perfectly preheated the crowd for what was still to come. Before launching into their final song, they invited everyone to hang with them by the merch stands and once again thanked the crowd for a gracious welcome.
After a slight intermission the lights dimmed and IDLES took the stage. A surprise to me, they opened with their song "Colossus", which has a rattling beat from drummer John Beavis that slowly builds. An intro that very much felt like a tease for what was soon to come. As front man Joe Talbot jumped in continuing the buildup, he took a pause to ask the crowd to split straight down the middle. There was nothing but excitement as he parted this sea of black tees and once the guitar came in it was time to mosh. Arms were flying, legs were flying, BEER was flying! I even got some on my camera lens! This crowd was ready to move and they didn’t stop until they had to. Crowd surfers began making their way to the front from all directions and the barricade shook with ferocity.
Jumping straight into the next song "Car Crash", guitarists Lee Kiernan and Tina Maynard who was filling in for Mark Bowen, wowed the crowd with melding riffs while bassist Adam Devonshire, married it all together. Joe sang out to the crowd with one foot on a speaker and one hand held out in front of him, as if feeling the words travel back and forth between him and the crowd. With a final hiss they jumped into "Mr. Motivator" and soon Kiernan had jumped into the pit, guitar and all! Navigating a camera and a overhead guitar cable proved to be an interesting game of limbo! The crowd passed him back and forth as he continued to play, Tina jumping on keys, while Joe and Adam huddled at the drums to jump on Johns beat.
I decided to move to the balcony so I could get a full view. When I tell you this crowd had energy, I mean it! I swear they didn’t stop once. From above I could really see how IDLES packed The Truman and it was quite the view. Not often do I see shows from that perspective since I love being in the middle of it all. It was a nice change of pace and interesting to see the contrast between folks nodding along in the balcony to the chaos of the mosh pit below.
I was delighted to see IDLES and Injury Reserve for the first time, and I would highly recommend them if you’re someone who lives for that high energy! This upcoming week they go North to Canada before making their way over to the East coast. From there they’ll jet off for a sold out run through New Zealand and Australia. It’s always wonderful to see bands who are passionate about what they do. That energy carries over and is felt immensely by the audience. If you get the chance definitely check out these genre-defying bands.
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