LIVE: Turnstile @ Kentish Town Forum

By Aaron Jackson

Every now and then, after the final chord of the show has rung out and the crowd start to pour out of the venue, there is a palpable sense that you’ve just experienced something special. At this point in time, Baltimore five-piece Turnstile are enjoying what can only be considered a meteoric rise in popularity. With their pioneering brand of hardcore music that transcends every trope that critics could level at the genre, they have begun to permeate the mainstream and capture the attention of the masses.

To shatter so many conventions and stand out so flagrantly in such a busy scene is no mean feat. Such is a testament to Turnstile’s more recent efforts in the form of 2018’s ‘Time & Space’ and, even more significantly, 2021’s ‘GLOW ON’. Aptly described by Punktastic as “a dynamic and anthemic hardcore record that confidently bulldozes the walls of the genre”, it’s ‘GLOW ON’ that has cemented the quintet’s spot in the limelight. The proof was in the pudding at their sold-out show in London’s Kentish Town Forum where it was the newer songs that were met with the most fervour.

Kicking off proceedings in the same fashion as they do on the record with ‘MYSTERY’, the audience was instantly whipped into a frenzy, bellowing every single syllable back to frontman Brendan Yates in flawless tandem. ‘BLACKOUT’ elicited much the same reaction, only somehow even more manic than before, having just been even further riled up by the blisteringly breakneck ‘Real Thing’ and ‘Big Smile’, both of which were plucked from ‘Time & Space’. Towards the latter end of the set, ‘HOLIDAY’ saw at least 10% of the standing crowd on their horizontal, thrown around over the barriers and really making the security guards earn their wage.

Despite playing to sold-out crowds, the magnitude of which is somewhat unprecedented for a band of this ilk, any notion the band themselves have “sold out” (as brazenly announced by one sole spectator) is frankly ridiculous. Sure to include a healthy slew of deeper cuts for the more long-term fans, the likes of ‘Canned Heat’, ‘Keep It Moving’ and the ever-impressive ‘Gravity’ all contributed to maintaining an authentic and raw experience. Brimming with angsty energy, the atmosphere in one of the capital’s more iconic venues was positively akin to that of a 100-cap dive bar. Stacked to the rafters and barely any room to breathe, Turnstile were London’s hot ticket, and one can only imagine that it’s a matter of time before they start packing arenas.

Closing out the night with a whirlwind run-through of instant classic ‘T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION)’, the quintet flexed their stamina both physically and sonically as they delivered a performance with identical energy to that of when they had started… 23 songs earlier. With Yates throwing limbs around in some atypical-yet-charming choreography and Freaky Franz Lyons providing the now trademark high kicks, their emphatic conduct was more than reciprocated by the adulating crowd.

Turnstile are a band that will be discussed, referenced and cited for generations to come. Live shows like this are just one of many reasons why.