by Hadley Schaffer // DJ Duckington
After over six hours at Central Park for the first day of Shaky Knees, I kept the festival going by attending the punk band IDLES’ late night show at the legendary venue Heaven at The Masquerade. I used to go to this venue quite often, but due to obvious reasons, it had been over two years since I last set foot in my favorite concert spot in Atlanta.
The Masquerade is one big venue with three separate rooms (Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory), which can (and often do) host multiple concerts at once. Before this year, I remember lining up for whichever room I’d be in attendance of; however, due to this pesky pandemic, all of the rooms lined up outside of the venue at once to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test before entering, forming the longest line I have ever seen at this venue. My friend and I got there at 11pm, right when doors opened, and we were waiting in line until midnight.
I was honestly a bit anxious about missing the show. The last thing I wanted was to make it into the room after IDLES had already come out. Fortunately, we made it literally right in time. We walked in and saw the IDLES banner hanging across the stage, and just a couple minutes later, the band was standing right in front of us. We missed the opener, Gustaf, which was a bit disappointing, but I was just grateful to have made it right in the nick of time to see what may be my favorite band.
They opened the show with “Colossus,” the first song off of 2018’s Joy as an Act of Resistance. I had seen IDLES at Shaky Knees in 2019, but I didn’t make it in time for this song. So I was wildly happy to finally get the chance to see it. The crowd was stirring from the very first sound of drums, and it continued to gain intensity with each new addition to the song, until it erupted into full chaos directly following the first hook. And the energy somehow continued escalating all throughout the song, until the first part ended and vocalist Joe Talbot told us to “split the crowd in two.” After making sure to tell us to “look out for each other”, we heard the “ONE TWO” signaling the start of the song’s next part, and both sides charged one another. This had to be the best possible way to open a show; it perfectly set the tone for the rest of the night.
Following this, they played a couple tracks from their latest record, 2020’s Ultra Mono, and the crowd kept the same energy. During “Mother,” from 2017’s Brutalism, I actually had to push my way out of the pit to find some water. I always love being in the center of the mosh pit at shows, and it takes a lot for me to leave, but IDLES was so intense I had to get out 4 songs in.
After that I got right back in to hear them perform their latest single “The Beachland Ballroom,” which is a slower track, but also one of my favorite things they’ve released. They followed this up with their hit “Never Fight A Man With A Perm,” which picked the energy right back up to an 11. During one of the hooks, a pit opened up, and I decided to stand in the middle before the drop. This, I quickly realized, was not a great idea. I had a portable charger in my pocket, and right when people started moshing, my leg was rammed into, and the charger dug right into my bone.
I’ve been injured in mosh pits before, being punched in the mouth, shoved in the jaw, etc. But this was something different. I could barely stand or put any pressure on my right leg, so I had to leave the pit once again. I got some more water and stood outside the pit for a considerable amount of time.
Although I was disappointed I couldn’t mosh as much, this gave me an opportunity to really watch the performance, and oh my god did they do a fantastic job. Everyone in the band is so talented, and their music brought out one of the wildest crowds I’ve ever seen.
After watching six or seven tracks from the sidelines, including my favorite song of theirs, “Television,” as well as an unreleased song called “The Wheel,” I decided to try out the pit again. They started playing “Reigns,” and I figured there was no way I wasn’t moshing to that, so I chose to endure the pain. And it was more than worth it.
Not only was that song phenomenal live, I somehow ended up right at the barricade for the next track, “Love Song,” and in the middle of it, guitarist Mark Bowen put down his instrument and hopped off the stage. He proceeded to climb onto the barricade, where he sang the hooks from OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson,” TLC’s “Waterfalls,” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” just about the last songs you’d expect out of IDLES. While Bowen was singing and occasionally letting out blood curdling screams, the other guitarist, Lee Kiernan, took his guitar into the crowd to mosh with the fans. It was so wild and exhilarating to see so close up.
After this, they finished “Love Song,” and everyone went back on stage to perform “Danny Nadelko.” For their final song, Joe brought out Gustaf to help them play “Rottweiler,” because “what’s better for an anti-fascist song than more anti-fascists?”
This was a phenomenal show. Genuinely one of the best, most thrilling concerts I have ever been to. Joe consistently reminded us of how grateful he is to their fans for allowing them to survive off of music, and he regularly used the time in between songs to spread messages of love, unity, and anti-fascism.
IDLES absolutely murdered this set, just to do it all again the very next day. You can read about my experience at day 2 of Shaky Knees Music Festival here!
This show is all over the place. Punk, pop, electronic, rap, various duck noises; you never know what you're gonna get, so there's bound to be a little something for everyone! (except for my grandfather, who hates all of it)