“What’s the Thai word for plane? That’s their name but I can’t remember it now” was what my car-for-hire driver is telling me as he punches buttons on his phone’s Spotify page. “they are really good.” It’s midnight in Atlanta and I’ve let my Lyft driver know that I’m something of a rock writer, on my way to a very sold out show by a very up and coming band, which has prompted a familiar exchange of new musical recommendations- it turns out this entire world is actually dying to talk about music if you just let them. Indeed, I’m heading to a small bar hosting a late night after show for the Bristol based band IDLES, of whom has somewhat stormed the scene we call indie rock and has somewhat sold their latest album “Joy As An Act Of Resistance” into a third pressing. Arriving at the Earl in east Atlanta, the vibe is speakeasy-esque; bar business as usual in the front, only walking down a long hallway illuminated by a green overhead light do you run into a couple of staffers huddling over a crumpled ticketholder list full of scratched off names. “I’ve got a ..uh..scanny thing” I offer on the screen of my phone. “We don’t have anything to scan it with- what’s the name on the ticket?” What IS the name on this ticket? Great question.
Inside the main concert hall, if you can call it that, is packed as the night’s opener finishes up. The place features a somewhat triangle stage that’s not that far removed from the crowd, accented by two old Peavy-style PA speakers suspended from the ceiling and the ceiling is low (that will come into play in a minute). I get a good middle ground spot in the crowd as the band takes the stage- not TOO close, after my experience earlier in the afternoon at Thee Oh Sees set found my aged, running-injury riddled self in the middle of a massive mosh pit- as I predicted a similar outbreak may occur in this place. Now let’s talk about the band- not to sound cliche but these guys look like they walked out of a Guy Ritchie film. Maybe they will read this and hate that. I don’t give a shit, it’s fucking true..I’m a Southerner and we just see things, write things. I should mention that guitarist Mark Bowen has arrived with his guitar, a pair of boxer briefs, and nothing else. The rhythm section starts into a slow building sinister groove- this being recognized as the opening to “Colossus”- lead singer Joe Talbot walks forward and peers over the crowd, brings the mic to his face, then reconsiders and backs away. Drums and bass build in intensity- Talbot walks back to the brink of the stage, and yet again backs away with a slight shake of the head. Nope, not yet. A third time, now the crowd’s tension building, he reaches up and grabs the base of the suspended PA speakers, shaking them as he goes into the opening lines. “Colossus” is a brooding, driving piece of music with a chanting chorus – “it goes and goes and it goes”, and quickly surveying the room you can feel the tension building along with the song…judging by the face of a certain very pretty girl who really may have been convinced to attend by her eager boyfriend, the air feels like this place could get a little bit dangerous tonight. The thing about “Colossus” is the song has a built in release valve- the second half of the song explodes into a ranting frenzy and the crowd pops off along with it, mosh pit plus fire code concerns combining as the room screams along with Taylor:
I’m like Stone Cold Steve Austin, I put homophobes in coffins
I’m like Fred Astaire, I dance like I don’t care
I’m like Ted Dibiase, I win no matter how much it costs me
I’m like Evel Kenieval, I break bones for my people
All of this follows into “Never Fight A Man With A Perm” and “Mother’ , Talbot defiantly singing “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich” (hey we have a similar plight here in this country). IDLES employs the idea of positivity and enlightenment as a weapon against oppressive forces that want you to live a life spent distracted moving from one problem to another. You know, Joy. As resistance. It’s clear during the band’s 15 or so song set that this type of visceral passion has resonated with an audience, and I think that the future of rock music has a steady hand behind the wheel for the time being. Also, we got a stirring a capella version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
In “Television” , Talbot offers advice:
“If someone talked to you, the way you talked to you, I’d put their teeth through. LOVE YOURSELF.” It isn’t really a suggestion.
Oh, the driver’s band he loved was Khruangbin . instrumental surf rock kind of stuff. They really were good.
JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE and other jams by this band can be found at
or on your normal streaming places.