Hardcore, i broadest lines, follows a well-known live formula: a guy death grabs a microphone in the fist and screams for betrayal into a bunch of other guys squeezing on a low stage while some more guys struggle to get up on stage to turn it in front. (Although there are endless regional permutations of hardcore, they almost all involve a lot of guys). Fast songs, fast sets, pure energy and aggression. As Adlan Jackson appropriate put it in New Yorkers recently: “Something you would not expect from people involved in hardcore: they actually love rules.” Turnstile breaks a host of these rules.
The band was formed in Baltimore, Maryland in 2010, and has grown through hardcore heterodoxy. 2021 is trippy and loved GLOW ON was a breakthrough that brought them more press and bigger shows. Throughout it all, Turnstile has got a crowd of fans hugging each other and singing every word. Nobody cares that frontman Brendan Yates dares to spin and slide and dance.
At a recent show in Queens, New York, it was clear that Turnstiles fans adore them for creating a spacious space. They do not know the rules and they do not care about the rules. They are unique internet kids who remain genuinely agnostic about the conventions of the alleged subculture of the band they saw. From that point of view, Turnstile is an absolute internet-y band, as they are also free.
My instinctive response to Turnstile – that they are “rule breakers” – makes me feel trapped in the old 90’s mindset, the days when there were all kind of of rules. But for the first time in a long time, when I saw Turnstile play, I felt the internet as a force of the good. My standard state of mind is that the promise of music on the internet long ago slipped away to the dominance of streaming services that power or trick millions of listeners to prefabricated genres. But here was an older, less cynical idea unfolding in front of me: Without the Internet giving them access to everything, these kids would probably still be stuck in the old mindsets.
Turnstile, explains drummer Daniel Fang, grew out of a very specific subculture and is now trying to operate in a post-subculture mentality. “The more accessible music is through the internet, through streaming services, the better,” he says during an interview from the band’s tour stop in Oslo. “We definitely grew up playing super DIY basements where everyone came from a very red thread of preferences in terms of culture and music. But even though it’s really beautiful and down to earth, it’s cool to have a really shocking variety of “People who come from different backgrounds and somehow feel an even greater sense of solidarity at these shows, even if the only thing that binds it together is the feeling that is spontaneously created on live shows.”
Exactly. But how did you do do to?