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Live: KNUCKLE PUCK // Electric Ballroom, London

“You’re here and you care about those songs. That’s what matters”, Chicago’s rockers Knuckle Puck head out on their rescheduled UK tour.

Postponing their December UK tour last year, Knuckle Puck have finally brought their second album Shapeshifter to this side of the Atlantic. With a set jam-packed with some of the old school favourites and a new material, the band performed to a eager crowd at Camden’s Electric Ballroom last Friday night, and we were there to witness the madness.

From the first notes of explosive opener Gone, it was a truly thrilling set presenting the Illinois five-piece in a very good shape. Demonstrating their prowess in smooth song transitions, we were taken on a journey through the raw emotions of Fences and the tempo changes in Disdain, to the cascading choruses of the absolute banger Evergreen.

Taking a moment to reflect, the band shared “You know, when we were playing in basements we never imagined we’d be playing in London. We don’t want to put any bullshit out there. You know how we feel.” Caught up in a wave of loud screams and a sea of hands, Knuckle Puck continued with some of the most outstanding tracks off of Shapeshifter. Translating their masterful songwriting skills into the live setting, impressive Want Me Around struck with the colossal chords and versatile vocals, whilst Double Helix brought forth their fervent passion and bold charisma. With a striking pop sensibility, the band easily blend magnetic choruses with an emotional charge alongside the lyrics that deliver much deeper meaning, and that beautifully resonates with the crowds.

Taking it down a notch with stunning Conduit, a personal favourite on the album as stated by vocalist Joe, the audience had a chance to take a deep breath but only for a brief moment, as we heard “Let’s open the circle pits” next. Fast-paced Pretense quickly fell into the electrifying guitars of But Why Would You Care?, and a short commentary from guitarist Nick: “In a spirit of this song, I will never take for granted what people think about me and my friends. You guys mean so much.”

Opening up and expressing their gratitude towards their fans, the band kept a strong bond with the audience throughout the entire performance. In between the moshpits and crowdsurfing actions, there was a place for more emotional moments, such as dedicating the hard-hitting No Good to everyone in the room.

“There’s so much to say, but nothing’s coming out… There’s a glimmer that shines through because you’re here and you care about those songs. That’s what matters. We’re all in this together”, we heard as the poignant Untitled hit the ether. With the lyrics “I’ll tell you everything is copacetic” towering over, we knew that the end of the show was nearly here.

Returning for an encore, Knuckle Puck delivered the last punch with Everyone Lies To Me and Your Back Porch, proving that it was all worth the wait to experience Shapeshifter live. Balancing the adrenaline-charged sonic rush with relatable lyricism, the sets they serve strike a chord and make you forget about the world outside for a while. And that’s what’s great about music.

Photos: Kasia Osowiecka