Gig Review: Turnstile at 9:30 club, May 29



In the song “No Surprise,” bassist Franz takes over vocals on the short, synthy, dreamy track. In a prescient way, Franz proclaims “You really gotta see it live to get it.” When Turnstile plays the song live, during the words “to get it” Franz’s vocals hiccup into a higher register, further emphasizing his point. The meaning of the song’s lyrics are general, abstract, and could be applied to anything. There is no mention of the live show but I do believe the line is referencing the band that created it, a subtle manifesto of the group’s self-perception. 


Turnstile opened the show up with “Mystery.” After a sequence of repeating synthesizer chords, the 9:30 Club dance floor turned into a temporary autonomous zone. The moment the music dropped the place went wild, a sea of people flinging themselves, running, pushing, being pushed, flying. Audience members bodied one another like grinding tectonic plates. There were no areas without movement, the entire floor transformed into a shaking, quaking fault line. And the craziest thing about it was the space remained that way for the rest of the show. Once it started, it didn’t stop until “T.L.C.” faded out and the band left the stage. Like “Mystery,” each song was a momentary burst that exceeded the word “rowdy” and all the conjurings that word’s definition brings to mind.


This was the last show of the Glow On tour. Although Turnstile hails from Baltimore, it felt as though they held onto D.C. as their home for the final show. Everything about it made it seem to be a hometown show, the audience filled with friends and family members of the band. There was something special about the conclusiveness of the performance, the last show of the tour finally home. I guess it is about coming home and being surrounded by loved ones. It’s also a pride thing. That night at Turnstile D.C. showed out. A chant of “DMV on top!” came after the music ended. Being home in the concert space is special. 


Admittedly, some of the show was too intense for me. I love dancing and moshing but at times the hardcore throwing-down transgresses what I like. The Turnstile pit was full of aggressively exuberant men flailing around. I’m not sure what to say about it. It’s annoying to me. I wish it was different. 


Midway through the set the group’s vocalist Brendan gave a list of thank yous, including a thank you to the audience for “being a part of our band.” It affirmed the importance of being there & participating & sharing the space & making the dance floor a home (despite the aggro-dudes). You really gotta see it live to get it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *