Though it might be a scene built on community and mutual respect, a hardcore show isn’t for the faint of heart. Stagediving is a near-constant game of one-upmanship, front flips, barrel rolls and heel-first pencil dives a common occurrence, while the hardcore pit is a place that would make even the most seasoned push-pitter think twice. Limbs are swung, fists are clenched, and – at times – it looks a little like that part in the second Matrix where Neo fights a thousand agents. But with fewer suits.
It’s a scene that might look like a brawl to the uninitiated, but that sense of danger and physical exertion makes it such an escape – it’s all part and parcel of what makes hardcore so special. Try telling that to the security at Glasgow’s Classic Grand, though.
Baltimore bunch Turnstile – already talked about as one of hardcore’s most promising groups – rocked up to the Classic Grand last week, two dates into a hotly anticipated UK tour. Predictably, it was chaos, as YouTube gig filmmaker David Tan‘s full set video will attest to. Some highlights: the guy who stagedives before the first riff is even played (and the sheer number of times that same dude stagedives throughout the set); frontman Brendan Yates nicking an errant denim jacket and chucking it on mid-way through the set; Brendan also launching his mic skywards when the breakdown hits in ‘Drop’.
Skip ahead to the 20-minute mark, though, and things get really wild. Security pile in from both sides, standing at the front of the stage in a limp attempt to prevent more any more stagediving, while the band valiantly play on. Bassist Frank Lyons has a word, before Brendan barks, “What are y’all doing?!” The band call everyone up on stage, the lights go up, amps get cut – fun’s over, right?
Wrong. Spurred on by only the drums of Daniel Fang, the crowd take the place of the now cut-out guitars, singing every riff for ‘Fazed Out’, and carrying on as if nothing had changed from five minutes previous. Stagedives resume, while Brendan leaps atop an amp, acting as the crazed conductor to this bizarre twist in the tale.
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It’s indicative of the fun-first approach that Turnstile bring to hardcore as a whole – one that popped up throughout their UK run. Cardiff saw similarly chaotic scenes, Brendan himself leaping atop a speaker and flipping into the crowd, seemingly landing headfirst. Somehow, he got off scot-free.
At their London appearance at House Of Vans, too, the whole place erupted. Within milliseconds of Turnstile’s arrival on-stage, the converted train tunnel that makes up House Of Vans’ live room became a sausage machine, as people poured forward, mushing themselves up like mincemeat. That feverish excitement didn’t let up for well over an hour, until the tunnel was practically dripping with sweat. Ask anyone in the room that evening, and it was sure to be their favourite show of the year.
As the worldwide run for their game-changing ‘Time & Space’ LP moves on, then, it seems Turnstile might finally have cracked the code. By fusing those exciting, knife-edge moments of danger that make up a truly memorable hardcore show with a sense of fun and frolics, and a lack of regard for conventional security techniques, there’s little doubting that Turnstile could be the ones to bring the genre up from the underground.