review by Gracia
I drove up to THE GARAGE late on Saturday night, more than excited to be back at my stomping grounds and see a favorite band play while I’m at it. Knuckle Puck was the first band I saw at the newly renovated GARAGE, and marked the end of my strange multiple week hiatus from the venue and the music scene. I was pleased to see that the inside of THE GARAGE looked familiar, and that the local vibe of it was still the same. Inside, I saw some of the familiar faces that always trail around these shows, giving me an overwhelming sense of home.
And all in all, I think that is what Knuckle Puck represents: home. A band that was considered local no more than two years ago has exploded in the pop-punk scene, but they took with them a sense of humbleness and gratitude both in their music and their attitudes. This was especially apparent tonight, in Knuckle Puck and their supporting bands.
Unturned, Head North, Sorority Noise, and Seaway all fit very well with the Knuckle Puck vibe, with a wide range of songs and abilities. Each band seemed to have songs that were more upbeat and energetic (Like Seaways “Airhead”), and songs that were more soulful and deep (Like Head North’s “Brooklyn’s Burning”). These bands kept everyone on their feet for their whole set.
Along with the shared sheer energy of the bands, each was genuinely grateful to be there. It is true that almost all bands say a word of thanks at some point on stage, but it felt like these bands felt more truthful. Unturned was so thankful for everyone that came to watch their set, however small the numbers. The lead singer of Head North came out to talk to their fans after the set. The bands were happy to be there, and so were we.
And then Knuckle Puck came on. Cheers lit up the room and hands flew into the air, everyone pushing forward trying to get closer to them. The faces of this five piece pop-punk band from the midwest looked familiar to everyone in the crowd, and the setlist was satisfying to long time fans and first-timers alike. With a perfect blend of tracks from their newest album, Copacetic and old favorites like “No Good”, the band really brought it.
Knuckle Puck’s music made people jump and clap and push and shove, but it also allowed people to find solace. In the middle of the set, frontman Joe Taylor spoke about mental health stigma and suicide prevention. He spoke about the need for communication, how it is important to talk about these things freely and openly. The room fell very silent, and everyone was listening intently. Applause came when he said, “If there is someone that you have been wanting to talk to about it, you should say something. It’s hard to talk about but we want you to feel comfortable to do so.” With those few simple words, that they had created a safe space for their fans. They then led into “But Why Would You Care?”, a song off their 2014 EP While I Stay Secluded.
The familiar feel of THE GARAGE is something that I will never take for granted. I am so happy to be back, and I was so pleased with Knuckle Puck’s performance. I guess that a truly great band in a truly great place makes for a truly great night.