Hardcore and indie, dream pop collided when Turnover played a nearly sold-out show at Concord Music Hall on Thursday (May 2). Featuring Chicago band Vortex along with Reptaliens and Turnstile, it was a jarring night that shifted between sweaty, in your face music to slow, mellow easy-going vibes. On paper, it’s a lineup that shouldn’t work and in some ways, it doesn’t, but it made for a memorable if weird concert.
As people milled about shopping merch and ordering drinks, local act Vortex hit the stage without warning. Foregoing introductions, they launched into their short, yet intense set that knocked you out and stomped all over you. Singer August’s wailing vocals acted as a siren call as those wandering gathered around the stage. It only took a short while for the moshing to start. It was an assault of pummeling drums, fast-paced guitars, and ferocious vocals reminiscent of the 80s hardcore scene. Before you knew it, it was over. Little stage banter, no chit chat, just a killer set. They were an unexpected force and left as quickly as they came living up to their name.
With the crowd buzzing, they were ready for another auditory attack, but Reptalians calmed things down with their chill vibe. No chaos, no violent dancing or brutality. Just a mellow band whose spacey set gave the crowd a moment to catch their breath. With their DIY stage set up and Bambi Browning’s gentle vocals, Reptaliens seem like they’re from another planet where everything is groovy, peaceful and surreal. Brown hopped around the stage and never stopped smiling while singing “Shuggie II,” “Echo Park,
and “Nunya.” Their mix of flowing dreamwave and synthpop got the crowd swaying and dancing. Their set was memorable, especially with percussionist Austin Smith’s hypnotizing moves his ever-changing costumes. Starting as an alien from a 60s sci-fi flick, he ended the night with a striptease. Their performance was strange, confusing, but captivating. Definitely one you won’t forget anytime soon.
The serene mood didn’t last long once Turnstile hit the stage. As soon as they walked on, a circle pit formed in the crowd waiting for Brendan Yate’s scream to signal the start of chaos. Bodies collided as the band opened with “Generator,” the pit growing bigger with each song. The band, clearly loving the fury of the crowd, encouraged stage divers and crowd surfers. Yates even joined in making his way into the crowd much to the dismay of security. Their 15 song set included “Big Smile,” “The Real Thing,” “Blue on You,” and “Moon,” but it only felt like they performed for 10 minutes. It wasn’t enough. You wanted more energy, more craziness, and more of Yates’ wiggling hips. By the time they left the stage, the crowd was exhausted and exhilarated. If you walked in not a Turnstile fan, you were one by the end of the night. With their over the top energy and intense drive, these guys have outgrown the support slot. It’s time for them to headline.
The mood shifted again when headliners Turnover took the stage. They don’t have the same fervor and brutality of Turnstile, but they kept the energy flowing albeit at a calmer pace. Their set was airy and upbeat featuring songs “Dizzy on the Comedown,” “Pure Devotion,” “Hello Euphoria,” and new song “Danzing.” Their dreamy sound and bouncy energy kept people on their feet. Their moody and Austin Getz’s crooning vocals left a huge impact, leading the crowd in mass singalongs. There was even the occasional crowd surfer proving you don’t need to go heavy to get a crowd riled up. Their bright, breezy music was a strange way to end a night that started out with a bang but left everyone satisfied.
Featuring an eclectic array of bands, it proved to be a strange variety show. Each band did a great job engaging the crowd and each brought something different to the stage with Turnstile and Turnover being the biggest highlights. It’s a jarring lineup, one that constantly shifts moods, but it’s still a night of great music and dancing, especially if you go in with an open mind.