IDLES and Injury Reserve bring post-punk to NYC

Jules Kelly, Contributor

On Sept. 15, British punk band IDLES played Brooklyn’s historic Kings Theatre for their “Back To Normal” Tour with the support of abstract rap group Injury Reserve. 

IDLES started the show with their classic opener “Colossus,” which increases in energy and keeps the anticipation building until the last minute. The crowd became antsy as they cheered on the band, aware of what was coming. As the song built to its eventual climax, the band stopped playing and lead singer Joe Talbot smiled at the audience while making a hand gesture of splitting the pit in half. “Are you ready to collide?” Talbot screamed into the mic to an already-excited audience. “Are you ready to love?” 

The song resumed, picking up into a cacophony of noise as the two sides of the crowd merged back together. People were dancing, moshing, singing and screaming. Lee Kiernan, one of the band’s guitarists, even got on top of the barricade to perform for the crowd.

The five-piece played hits from each of their albums with their main goal being to unify and uplift the audience. That’s been IDLES’ motive to make music throughout their entire career, but the unity felt real in a crowd like that. During the aptly titled song “Mr. Motivator,” Talbot pointed to audience members, reminding them that they “can do it,” followed by a callback of “Yes, you can!” from the crowd. “Grounds” and “I’m Scum” resonated with everyone in the room, as Talbot screamed lyrics about racial and social equality. Despite being from Bristol and writing songs with their British audience in mind, lyrics like “this snowflake’s an avalanche” tend not to lose their meaning in Brooklyn.

Jules Kelly

Talbot is an incredible frontman. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of him as he performs. Whether he’s skipping around the stage between songs, standing on top of the speakers and gyrating his hips like a modern Mick Jagger, there’s never a time to be bored during Talbot’s lively performance.

Talbot gives energy to the other members, and they do in return. With everyone playing off of each other, they are all just as energetic as the frontman. Guitarist Mark Bowen would slide from one end of the stage to the next as he played. Both he and Kiernan would repeatedly crowd surf, stand on audience members and run across the barricade with joy. The band even went into an impromptu cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” following “I’m Scum,” one of their most popular tracks.

The performance closed with “Rottweiler,” which allowed the band to truly showcase their unity. During the song’s instrumental section, Talbot played aside drummer Jon Beavis while each member showcased their musical abilities. The performance went on for nine minutes as each player bounced off of one another until they wound down and thanked the audience.

Supporting the band on this tour was Injury Reserve, a rap group consisting of rapper Ritchie With a T and producer Parker Corey. The duo played their latest release “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” an album named and dedicated to member Stepa J. Groggs who passed away in June 2020. Sept. 15 was also the one-year anniversary of the release, making the performance an emotional one for both Injury Reserve and the crowd. The duo extended the ending of “Bye Storm” by creating a loud, chaotic and cathartic collection of noise. 

By the end of the night, everyone in attendance was exhausted yet buzzing with excitement. Fans left and filled the streets discussing their favorite songs. In one performance, IDLES was able to bring together a room of strangers with their sound, making it an unforgettable night.