HomeaflIDLES Bowery Ballroom Concert Review: Visceral Power

IDLES Bowery Ballroom Concert Review: Visceral Power

“We’re not fighting, we’re just dancing” reads the back of a black bomber jacket, a popular item of IDLES merch in the crowd of Tuesday night’s show at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Their shows are, as they say, “chaotic good,” with flurries of moshers bubbling up each time the band enters a moment of visceral power. The lead single off their forthcoming fifth album TANGK is aptly titled “Dancer,” an ode to throwing down on the floor “hip-to-hip” and “cheek-to-cheek.”

IDLES’  songs — especially the nervy tracks on 2021’s CRAWLER and several of TANGK’s — are not rays of  major-chord sunshine. There’s a definable trace of darkness swimming through them, whether that be from Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen’s droning, buzzsaw guitars, or vocalist Joe Talbot’s lyrical cycles of trauma, addiction, fascism, and death. Still, as Talbot has maintained, these songs are love songs. They’re meant to unite the crowd emotionally, spiritually, and, in this day and age, ideologically. There’s no point in fighting, so give your neighbor a hug instead.

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Last night’s show highlighted two facets of the IDLES experience in 2024. For starters, this is a band that is loudly and proudly political. If you didn’t know before the Bowery Ballroom show, then you certainly learned, as Joe Talbot repeatedly took the opportunity to share what IDLES are about.

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IDLES playing a club show at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom ahead of the release of their new album, TANGK #idles #tangk #newyorkcity

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During “I’m Scum,” Talbot had everyone squat down on the floor and led chants of “Ceasefire now” and “Fuck the King,” which sent a cathartic charge rippling through the audience. Towards the show’s finale, Talbot urged us to continue demanding a ceasefire from our leaders until it happens. And at their set’s conclusion, Talbot’s final words to the audience were, “Viva Palestine.”

The dialogue was underscored by the band’s most politically engaging songs. “Danny Nedelko,” a fan favorite and an ode to immigrants, was a rousing celebration whose relevance is unceasing even six years later. “I’m Scum” features some of IDLES’ most furious anti-establishment lines, especially “I don’t care about the next James Bond/ He kills for country, queen, and God,” which had the audience erupting in cheers. And Talbot’s meditations on masculinity, parenthood, violence and the cycles of trauma — especially on “Colossus,” “The Wheel,” and “Mother” — were made more affecting by the air of love and acceptance that they carried.



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