Chicago natives Knuckle Puck have been making waves in the pop-punk scene since starting out in 2010. With a string of successful EPs under their belts, they finally released their much-anticipated debut album, Copacetic, in July 2015. The band’s return to the UK has been long-awaited, especially since the cancellation of their co-headline tour with fellow Chicago band Real Friends that was announced for December last year. A reschedule of dates saw Knuckle Puck soon announce a short run of shows across the UK in some very intimate venues, kicking off the tour was a sold-out show at London’s Old Blue Last and it made for a triumphant return.
With just two bands making the line-up the night was opened by south London band Wallflower (6.5/10) Weaving together influence from alt. rock/emo and post-hardcore Wallflower have crafted a unique sound that balances delicate vocal melodies and ferocious guitars flawlessly, making for a very enticing live show. With the amount that’s going on within the songs it’s impressive to see the band performing it to such a degree, as well as pouring an excess amount of energy into their show.
Wallflower - Photo Credit: Unkown
With a setlist comprised mostly of tracks from their 2014 debut EP Summer Daze as well as also debuting some new material. Standout tracks included the fuzz-filled ‘Inside Out’ and the melancholy ‘Sleep Forever’. Wallflower have previously supported Boston Manor on tour, and are lined-up to perform at both Download Festival and 2000 Trees in the coming weeks, and, their performance proved exactly why they’ve been climbing higher and higher in the scene in recent years.
Knuckle Puck (9/10) took to the stage to an incredibly warm reception, from the second ‘Disdain’ kicked in it was evident that the UK had been longing for the band’s return. The pop-punk scene has been known for its energetic, non-stop gigs and tonight, Knuckle Puck weren’t pulling any punches. Frontman Joe Taylor kept the crowd as involved as possible as the band barrelled through their set, mentioning in-between songs that ‘as soon as we step onstage when we come over here I feel like I’m home’. With their setlist lasting only 45 minutes they offered the most relentless performance possible.
Filled mostly with tracks taken from Copacetic and a surprising amount of old favourites including ‘Bedford Falls’ and ‘Oak Street’ taken from the 2014 EP While I Stay Secluded. The crowd’s energy didn’t waver at all throughout, with a constant stream of enthusiastic crowd-surfers and Taylor encouraging a few mosh pits during the night. The highlights of the show made for when Taylor entered the crowd for the end of ‘Evergreen’ and the band delivered an emotional performance of ‘Untitled’ to an ecstatic audience, so much so that you could barely hear Taylor’s and backing-vocalist/guitarist, Nick Casasanto’s voices over the crowd. Before charging into their final song Taylor harked back to the band’s sold out show at Kingston’s Fighting Cocks last April, challenging the Old Blue Last to ‘be sweatier than that show’ and as the band kicked into a stellar performance of ‘Pretense’ the crowd rose to the challenge effortlessly.
Taylor mentioned several times when encouraging the crowd that the band didn’t know if they’d get ‘the chance to play venue’s this intimate next time round, so let’s make these shows count’. Seeing a band grow from strength to strength and tackle bigger and bigger stages is always an incredibly rewarding experience. However, experiencing small, sweaty, in-your-face gigs is a feeling that’s difficult to beat, and, small, sweaty, in-your-face gigs are undoubtedly what Knuckle Puck do best.
Knuckle Puck - Photo Credit: Callum Jupp