Certain music genres have a hard ceiling on the amount of popularity one can achieve, and currently Turnstile is pushing those boundaries of what hardcore means in today’s world. The vast majority of bands operating in that loose pigeonhole might be playing O’Brien’s or basement shows in Allston. Turnstile has moved those goalposts in a most substantial way by playing two consecutive sold out nights at Roadrunner, a big step up from their last local show when they were in the smallest font size row at Boston Calling in 2019. Before taking the stage, the PA blasted out some ’80s radio bangers and the crowd morphed into a jubilant multi-throated karaoke performer for Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” This is not your father’s hardcore show.
The kids came out in force and security must have gone through a box of black Sharpies; I saw plenty of pre-teens with their parents who would need a few years to brave the pit but the basic training has started. The band is a juggernaut on stage; singer Brendan Yates never stopped moving and Franz Lyon anchored the songs while playing bass either on stage, up on a monitor wedge, or jumping around in pure abandon while guitarists Pat McCrory and Greg Cerwonka slashed and burned. The bulk of the set featured songs from Glow On, their breakthrough record from last year and culminated with a confetti-laden climax of “T.L.C. (Turnstile Love Connection).” The only mis-step was the weirdly out of place drum solo but then again Turnstile isn’t preoccupied with other people’s definitions of what they should be and do, and they are pretty successful with that strategy.
Fellow Baltimorian Lindsay Jordan (aka Snail Mail) was in tow for a few shows and she marveled at the venue and how well the staff treated her and her band. Stating that she’s never played a bad show in Boston, she kept her streak alive. Coming out of the gates with “Heat Wave” is never a bad opening gambit but I didn’t see that cover of Supergrass’s “Feeling Like I Do” coming. Snail Mail isn’t breaking through any boundaries but her Liz Phair/Juliana Hatfield style of indie rock goes down pretty pleasantly.
Saturday’s show kicked off with Mary Jane Dunphe who took the stage with just a microphone. Conveying emotion with just her voice and her dancing, she arched and spun and somersaulted her way throughout the performance, drawing blood from her kneecap during the process. She kinda lost the crowd towards the end when a series of false starts eventually had her abandon that particular song and she invited out a friend to play bass to end her set.