Live review: Knocked Loose, O2 Institute Birmingham

Knocked Loose hit Birmingham hard as they begin their furious new chapter...

Live review: Knocked Loose, O2 Institute Birmingham
Rachel Roberts
Ed Mason

“I need you to show me what you’re fucking made of. Right here, right fucking now,” demands Knocked Loose guitarist Isaac Hale. The Kentucky hardcore maulers are on UK soil for the first time since last summer's brutal festival sets, and they’re not going easy. Kicking off, Isaac gives a 2,000-strong audience permission to lose their minds as frontman Bryan Garris paces side to side across the width of the stage.

It’s been just shy of a week since the Louisville quintet announced their third album, You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To, a record which is set to “encompass all directions” of their sound, from the hellish to the stressfully melodic. And tonight, Birmingham are the first UK ears to hear its leading track, Blinding Faith, live. Magic shit is about to go down.

First up are Deafheaven and their shoegaze-licked melancholy metal. Frontman George Clarke acts like their dark conductor, orchestrating the band and the crowd with swish staccato movements of the hand and propelling headbangs at every moment he gets.

The crowd is mostly still, but absorbed. It’s a different flavour from those KL beatdowns, but it gives a moment of quiet before the storm, all without compromising on blaring instrumentation and ruthless fry vocals as they deliver delights such as Sunbather, celebrating its 10th birthday, and the gloomier Black Brick.

It’s shoulder-to-shoulder in the venue, as Deep In The Willow’s opening wails begin to cry out. Knocked Loose start as they mean to go on – there’s no messing about, and no grandeur – with all five members expecting the same energy back.

The setlist is expertly cherry-picked, offering a spread of their best delicacies, from their grimiest breakdowns and their most characterful lyrics. On the cusp of this next record, tonight they say: look at everything we’ve delivered so far. You better get ready for what’s coming next.

God Knows sees George make a return onstage with the headliners, and Deadringer’s ‘watch me motherfucker’ gets even the pint-clutchers and back-wall-hangers pulsing forwards in waves.

And then there it is, Blinding Faith’s circling intro trudges into the room. It's only a week old, but it’s already forged an iconic line for itself. ‘Bend the knee, Child of God’ blare axe wielders Nicko Calderon and Isaac in turn, before Bryan upholds every swarming body’s attention with that drain-gurgling, guttural growl.

They of course don’t let us go without offering more of those tracks that landed them here in the first place. Bryan’s signature barks in Counting Worms even unleashes a swathes of chuckles dusted with hysteria.

As they reach closer Everything Is Quiet Now, he wants one last thing from us: no still bodies in the house. “Don’t you dare disappoint me,” he warns. As the floor space swells open, he holds the mic stand up to the air, like royalty with a sceptre.

Knocked Loose are the hardcore band of their time. Don’t you dare miss them as they shine like this.

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