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Happy ThanksMoshing: Punched in the face and kicked in the nipple



George Washington University


Happy ThanksMoshing: Punched in the face and kicked in the nipple

Drug Church, Turnstile, and The Story So Far


It didn't look like there was a lot of room to move. More than 200 hardcore-punk fans at Turnstile and The Story So Far's Friday night show were cramped into this underground hole-in-the-wall club and bar. Along the border of Logan Circle and U Street Corridor, the venue was Black Cat DC. At most, the crowd had space to bob their head and give applause when Drug Church opened for the night.

Like the blocky, messy logo on a splotchy, rasta-colored flag on the wall behind the drumset, Drug Church’s music is shoegazey, fuzzy, with stoner-esque melodies. Playing their album would be fitting background music for a quiet Sunday in a skate shop; laid back, almost lazy, yelled and wavy vocals, imbued with some grumpy undertones.

So the frontman’s energy shocked me. He was always moving during the set - jumping back and forth, flinging his head and shoulders with every syllable, or whipping his right arm as he screamed from his tattooed throat into the mic in his other hand. Wearing flannel and hopping the whole time, two super enthusiastic guys were bellowing lyrics near the front. Charismatically between sets, the singer humbled Drug Church: “Our job is to get you guys excited for the bands you actually paid to see.” Their stage presence was sweet.

While things were getting fun and pumping up, the band took the time to wind things back down a little. Cautioning hardcore kids to not crowdkill or injure anyone in the audience in the mosh pit, Drug Church reminded everyone that fans of The Story So Far and Turnstile are very different:

“This is a mixed bill. We aren’t morons, right?”

My expectations got a little nagged with disappointment as I realized the surrounding audience had lots of couples and girls. To witness a crazy pit is why my friends and I came to this show, but the pandemonium maybe wouldn’t unfold that night. With Turnstile coming on that night in all their groovy, junkyard splendor, how would the concert be legit without flailing arms, being shoved to the ground, and getting bruised in the most random moments?

The fans didn’t care. Turnstile went on as voices were shrieking and feet were bouncing. Strumming a few notes before their first song, all heads suddenly turned from the stage to the middle of the crowd. All eyes were fixed on the 25 or so guys who were ruthlessly slamming to the side any sorry person who happened to stand nearby. The pit was born. People were getting hit, if not shoving, smushing, or climbing on top of each other to the front, as hits from Pressure to Succeed and Nonstop Feeling got the club violently funky.

The magic of Turnstile's music is that it's fitting for just getting down and grooving or fucking shit up. There were no breaks during the set and the Turnstile train just kept chugging like the fierce intensity of their discography. Rowdy, pissy energy from guitar solos, breakdowns, and thrashy riffs absolutely whipped through the crowd. We got hit in the head, clocked in the face, and kicked in the nipple (weird, I know) amongst a hundred headbanging people. Turnstile literally rocked the shoes off people's socks as they clamored to the stage to shout every lyric, all the way through the final, mellower serenades of Blue by You.

I didn't know what to expect for The Story So Far. The pop-punk band is super moody, which Drug Church gave a friendly jab at, calling them “aggressive rock.” Their catchy choruses and pubescent angst don't have the breakneck and edgy energy of bands like Turnstile. The British-kinda thing the singer does with is voice is captivating and pleasant. Think of The Story So Far as the soundtrack to speeding down a sweaty skate ramp on a sunny summer’s day .

It was a pleasant shock, then, when the already cramped crowd of people got tighter as fans smushed their way to the front. The Story So Far came on stage and began playing their chipper tunes as everyone started hopping and bouncing off one another. People were singing along with sheer blissful excitement, pushing each other with ridiculous smiles on their faces, the energy of the set before was not only reinvigorated but amplified through in-your-face poppy vibes.

That’s the weird appeal of this band. Songs like Roam and Out of Luck have these oddly heavy parts that play a catchy chorus sautéed with elements of hard-hitting breakdowns. Live, those energetic accents are absolutely juicy. The instant they stepped off stage, two-hundred voices hoarsely filled the club with “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” Taking back to their guitars, mic, and drums, there were always like four people crowdsurfing in a climactically explosive encore.

Coming home satisfied from the vibes and intensity of that Friday night, I can't help but remember this peculiar converse shoe sitting on the front counter of Black Cat. It was dropped halfway through the show, by an owner probably too busy going ham to reclaim it.

Photos taken from Nathan Congleton on Flickr at a different Turnstile Show.