My first conscious thought during Turnstile’s time on stage was: “Shit, I forgot my inhaler.” This isn’t a joke. Heads glistened with sweat in the stage lights everywhere I turned. Turnstile had only been on for 20 minutes, but their non-stop barrage of power chords and hooks rarely left a moment of repose from the moment they took stage. The thing about Turnstile is that every song they play elicits a massive reaction from the crowd — each track on its own is a goddamn force to be reckoned with. Whether it was a heavy deepcut like “Death Grip” or the novel psychedelic rhythms of “Moon,” fans’ bodies were flying through the air, on the ground and into each other; frankly, there’s just no other hardcore band that compares to Turnstile in terms of accessibility and creativity.
Turnstile is the precise union of aggression and pop — not pop in the traditional sense but rather the sentiment. Their music insists that you move your feet, layering traditionally heavy chords and Fugazi-esque bass lines with groovy melody guitar, sprinkling some melodic vocals among the shouts. Their music casts a spell of invincibility, partially explaining the destructive tendencies of their audiences, but undeniably, you’re going to be having a fucking blast.
Opening for them on tour are Touché Amoré and Culture Abuse, the latter of which got the crowd moving with their unique blend of hardcore and West Coast skate punk. Much of their music centers on a carefree attitude with upbeat tempos, keeping heads bumping and the crowd engaged.
Next was the long beloved Touché Amoré, whose emotional, gripping post-hardcore gave a hint of how the crowd would soon react to Turnstile. Opening with fan favorite “~,” the crowd only took time to breathe during a surprise performance of slower track “Skyscraper” with Julien Baker, performing with the band before she went over to El Club for her own headlining show. They also played a new song titled “Green,” reminiscent of their most recent work on 2016’s Stage Four.
Once Turnstile took the stage, they gave no mercy to the crowd. Littering new tracks from their incredible 2018 release Time + Space among older material, the frenzied motion never stopped. The bravest of the hardcore fans launched themselves from the stage into the crowd while the rest screamed every word back at the band. This chaos flooded the Tangent Gallery from start to finish.
Rather than slowing down, the crowd’s energy escalated with every song; more and more people continued to dive and flip into the crowd, and midway through the set, “Drop” brought full on madness. Fans rushed the stage while lead singer Brendan Yates passed the mic off to those dashing by for periodic shouts of “Move your head / DROP!” before flying back to the masses. A song of very few words, the opening chords alone ignited the crowd for the remainder of their set.
The band had little to say during their set up until just before their final song, where Yates gave his appreciation to the crowd with a nod to their recent album: “Thank you for coming. Thank you for your time and space.” Closing with “Keep It Moving,” the aptly named song was supplemented with Yates’s calls for “everyone to get up here.” Nearly half the crowd stormed the stage, turning it into a warzone, while Yates took refuge standing on the kick drum. A testament to the passion of hardcore and Turnstile’s far-reaching creative genius, the crowd was under their destructive spell up until the glaring final crash of a snare.