I was at the Armory Sunday night because I wanted to see Turnstile, making me one of maybe 20 total people at the sold-out venue.
Turnstile are the obvious odd boys out on the Grey Day 2021 tour. The Baltimore hardcore band is touring behind Glow On, which, while it is a groovy, hooky, genre-defying record, is still worlds away musically from the rest of the lineup. “Oh my god, it’s a band? Shut up, I love them,” a teen near me remarked when they stepped on the stage.
The rest of the lineup? All rappers—$uicideBoy$ and Ramirez, plus Germ, Night Lovell, Shakewell, and Chetta—and all signed by G*59, the label $uicideBoy$ and Ramirez run together. (Chief Keef, who was announced along with the rest of the tour this summer, has been mysteriously absent.)
It’s not the first time $uicideboy$ have brought a little hardcore on tour; Turnstile and Trash Talk both hit the road with the New Orleans rap duo back in 2019, rounding out a lineup that included Denzel Curry and Pouya. It’s also not exactly what any of the all-ages crowd was there to see, so while the $uicideboy$ merch line at times extended back to the women’s room, you could walk right up to Turnstile’s table and grab your hoodie of choice.
Aren’t these kids supposed to be zonked out on Xanax? The second the DJ walked up to the booth and played the first few notes of Lil Peep and Lil Tracy’s “witchblades,” everyone lost their minds. The floor shook when that transitioned into Sheck Wes, with kids breaking out into chants of “G59” and throwing their middle fingers in the air. This was just for the DJ!
Whoever’s writing all the “Gen Z is socially stunted and doesn’t drink or do sex” stories has clearly not spent any time with the youths who were out last night. These fans were fun and they were messy. We saw a couple in a screaming fight that almost ended with one getting hit by the light rail and a kid who’d almost passed out being checked by a medic before even entering the venue. A girl flanked by six friends holding her up still managed to eat absolute shit on her way to the bathroom. At one point during Shakewell’s set, the kids in front of me lit cigarettes inside! You won’t see that audacity at the Rolling Stones show.
All of which made for a night that was goofy and wonderful as hell. I’m on the record as loving all ages shows—no lines for beer, youngs are generally more fun and less uptight than olds—but even by all-ages standards, this was a good crowd. Ramirez’s set ended with a singalong to Drowning Pool—when’s the last time you watched a group of people go ape shit for “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor?”
The funniest thing throughout the night was that none of these rappers understand how getting kids to pit works. You can’t just say, “I want a pit here, a pit there and a pit the fuck over there,” or “Run in a circle! Come on!!!” between songs. You kind of have to have a breakdown or something that makes people want to do that. (Of course, what’s more historically hardcore than not knowing how to set the crowd off?)
As Turnstile took the stage, vocalist Brendan Yates told the crowd, “I’ve seen you guys pitting all night, and this is the music for that.” He was right, of course: These were the pits Shakewell and Germ wanted. But you can’t manufacture it: Someone has to hear the first few notes of a song like “Holiday” and move everyone in their general vicinity out of the fucking way.
It’s to the credit of this crowd and the rest of the tour that the Turnstile set works. Everyone’s here to have fun, and they’re going to dance and smash into each other whether or not they know this random band with guitars on the bill. After their set, before $uicideboy$ closed out the night, I overheard a sweaty guy saying to his friend, “I’ve never listened to Turnstile but I fuckin’, I fuckin’…” and then trail off.
Kid: I agree.
Of course, the crowd was at its most frenzied during $uicideboy$’s hour-plus set. At what point will critics stop calling what they have a “cult following”? Again: sold-out show, insane energy.
It’s easy to get why it hits. They’re rappers, but their track titles can read like early Fall Out Boy singles (“If Self-Destruction Was an Olympic Event, I’d Be Tonya Harding,” “Lighting the Flames of My Own Personal Hell”). They sing cavalierly, for better or worse, about suicidal ideation and drug abuse, for kids who are cursed with a coming climate apocalypse and economic collapse and historically bad mental health. And their hardcore hip-hop really does transcend genre; their 2019 EP Live Fast, Die Whenever featured Travis Barker and Korn guitarist James Shaffer.
This is the future millennials want. I want to see more people with Casualties and Anti-Flag patches safety pinned to their vests next to $uicideboy$ “my liver will handle what my heart can’t” patches. I want more Drowning Pool shout-alongs at the hip-hop show. I want my favorite East Coast hardcore bands to play with hypey rap duos from New Orleans.
So what if these fans like when the beat goes “bnnnnnnnn nnnnn nnnnnnn,” and I like when the vocalist goes “arf arf?” So what if they sold their Vicodin from when they had their wisdom teeth out and now consider themselves trappers? (Though if that’s the criteria, consider me Rick Ross.) Are we so different?
It’s music for teens pretending they’re tough—and isn’t that exactly who hardcore is for?
If Self-Destruction Was an Olympic Event, I’d Be Tonya Harding
Life Is but a Stream~
5 Grand at 8 to 1
WE ENVY NOTHING IN THE WORLD.
Lighting the Flames of My Own Personal Hell
NEW PROFILE PIC
Materialism as a Means to an End
The Number You Have Dialed Is Not in Service
Aliens Are Ghosts
FOR THE LAST TIME
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Memoirs of a Gorilla
Now I’m Up to My Neck With Offers
South Side $uicide
Runnin’ Thru the 7th with My Woadies
That Just Isn’t Empirically Possible
Kill Yourself (Part III)
…And to Those I Love, Thanks for Sticking Around