IDLES • May 17, 2024 • The Union

Reviewed and Photographed by Lily Rutherford

On May 17, British post-punk band IDLES’s worldwide “love is the fing” tour hit the Union Event Center in Salt Lake City. The show garnered a lot of hype as the days led up to it – and the hype was met the night of the show as fans lined up outside the Union to see the band. Along the barricade, fans of all ages were decked out in IDLES merch from the night and from nights before, excited to get the opportunity to be so close to their favorite band. Outside the venue, fans smoked cigarettes and chatted as they waited for the show to start. The excitement was heavy, spreading through every corner of the venue. 

The band began their set in the darkness, beginning to batter out the heavy drums of “IDEA 01”, hyping up the crowd as each member of the band approached from out of the shadows. The band was loud, but the crowd was almost louder, their excitement clearly displayed through the screams echoing throughout the venue. The stage slowly lit up as the band picked up and dove into a fast-paced “Colossus”, garnering the crowd’s interaction and dedicated singing. Lead vocalist Joe Talbot was absolutely vibrant – his energetic, almost skittish approach to performance is unlike any other, and is one of the greatest stage presences in the modern era. His energy flowed through each song, truly demonstrating the passion he has for the hard punk songs he’s creating.

Photo Credit: Lily Rutherford

The rest of the band is no exception either. Guitarist Mark Bowen was radiant as well, with his energy guiding much of the band’s set. Guitarist Lee Kiernan stood out arguably most of all among the members, as he dove into the crowd three separate times, creating fan experiences unlike any other. As stagehands held his amp cord above the crowd, Kiernan walked through, smiling as fans sang every word of the song he was playing. The interactions he brought to the crowd combined with the rest of the band’s eccentric styles and created a show that can only be described as an IDLES show. Throughout the show, the band interacted with each other, joking with each other and laughing mid-song, while still focused on the music. It was clear that the chemistry between the band is unmatched, and that each member is vital in the creation of each song. 

Towards the end of the set, Talbot broke into an acapella snippet of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and the crowd happily joined in, cheering and laughing for the portion of comedic relief within such a heavy set. Talbot’s anecdotes also acted as a break from the heavy punk music, providing moshers an opportunity to catch their breath. 

IDLES is an undeniably political band, which proved to be quite refreshing for a period of uncertainty. Talbot was straightforward in the politics of the band’s songs, starting off “I’m Scum” with a loud chant of “Fuck the king!” repeatedly. The crowd, although in the deep United States, was invested in the chant and Talbot’s encouragement of it. Throughout the set, Talbot and the rest of the band members were sure to emphasize their support of Palestine. “Viva Palestina!” Talbot echoed throughout several portions of the set. The crowd roared each time he said this, devotedly echoing it back in support.

Before they began “DANNY NEDELKO”, Talbot dedicated the song to United States immigrants. “This song is dedicated to the immigrants that built your country,” he said, and the crowd screamed in agreement. “They built your country, and they built mine.” At the end of the set, Mark Bowen climbed into the crowd, fans raising him into the spotlight with their hands. “Viva Palestina!” he roared, and the fans once again echoed it back. 

The thing that moved me the most about IDLES’s set in Salt Lake was the feeling among the crowd. The fans treated each other like family, being sure that everyone around them felt safe, whether they were in the mosh pit or not. Talbot, and the rest of the band, treated the fans this way as well, ensuring those getting rowdy were doing it safely. The messages behind the songs were explained bluntly to the crowd, creating endearing moments. As the band finished a song, Talbot spoke earnestly to the fans: “The moral of the story is, you are not alone. If you feel alone, tell someone, because it could save your life or even someone else’s. Thank you.”

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