“Long live the open-minded and long live the moment.”
There is no band more important right now than Bristol, UK punk band Idles. A perfect combination of hard work, punk rock ethos, and social awareness comprises the fabric of an act that seems to be only beginning their meteoric rise to rock and roll royalty.
My first exposure to the music of Idles was through an oft-updated Spotify playlist that I follow. The first track, Colossus, off the 2018 release Joy as an Act of Resistance, begins with a slow and methodical combination of fuzzy bass guitar and minimalist drum accompaniment before developing into a heavy and tense build that seems to never end. I must have replayed it 4 or 5 times that morning, finding something new that I liked about it every time. Lyrically, it was powerful and clever- thematically painting the picture of a complicated character that is as emotionally complex as the music building behind it. The Idles rabbit hole that followed was deep and rewarding, they are without a doubt one of my favorite bands of the last decade.
From their shameless support for the LGBTQ community to their outspoken views on labor and immigration rights, Idles seems to be a band that truly understands what punk rock is all about. Rebellion and acceptance, hand in hand, fighting for the least powerful among us while creating an opportunity for community and growth as human beings.
If someone talked to you
The way you do to you
I’d put their teeth through
And that’s what they do
The bastards made you
Not want to look like you
So you pay through the nose
To look like someone else
All the weirdos on the shelf
I remember watching CNN in shock on the night of November 13, 2015 as news broke of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. I was alerted by a friend on twitter of an American band in France being targeted by terrorists (in some form of that language) and quickly turned on my TV to witness what ended up being much larger than just that. All told, suicide bombers and mass shooters targeting everything from soccer matches to cafes and music venues, taking 130 lives, 90 of which were inside the Bataclan Theatre where US band Eagles of Death Metal were playing a show. As someone who has spent two decades going to shows like this one, I couldn’t begin to imagine the horror of what was experienced by everyone inside the theater that night.
A rock and roll show can be a lot of things, but more than anything it is an opportunity to be surrounded by people of like mind looking to escape the bullshit of modern life and enjoy the community created by the art they enjoy. It can be an experience of joy, unity, fun, melancholy, etc and so on… but something that it should never be is an experience like the one that was had on that night at the Bataclan. It could have very easily rewritten the legacy of the theatre as one that ended in violent bloodshed, but that wasn’t the case. After roughly a year with the doors closed, Le Bataclan Theatre reopened to continue it’s legacy as a stronghold of art and music in one of the world’s oldest cities.
There were hundreds of think pieces written after this event about the power of music to heal, but imagine experiencing such horror and being able to ever be in a crowd again. Similar thoughts were espoused after the 2017 massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. Such trauma can destroy the lives of survivors and make seemingly trivial things like concerts seem of minimal importance.
As someone who has never experienced something like these events first hand, the only perspective that I can gain on these events are those that I have read about- tales of people trying to put their lives back together in the wake of extreme trauma, trauma of which they never expected to experience at a joyful gathering like a music festival or rock and roll show.
I don’t know how much the history of the Bataclan played into Idles’ decision to record their live album there, but the fact that the theatre is still operating after such a horrific night is in itself a triumph of will- a statement that we as human beings won’t be defeated by violent shitheads with hellish intentions. The message of Idles is one of defiance in the face of extremism of all kinds, while also declaring their very existence as a celebration of all of the things that make us human. In that regard, Idles and Le Bataclan are one in the same.
A Beautiful Thing: Idles Live at Le Bataclan is available for pre-order now and will be released on December 6, 2019.
photo © Emilie Bardalou Photography