As Knuckle Puck burst onto the stage at Mavericks, frontman Joe Taylor let free the opening lyrics to “Disdain.” The words “I’ve got a lot to talk about!” rushed from his throat and rang through the venue, finding his voice joined by hundreds of screaming fans who could relate to every feeling. Knuckle Puck brought the heaviest set of the night, following Milestones’ crowd energizing performance with a gritty but approachable American hardcore meets pop punk sound. Knuckle Puck is young, effortlessly cool, and endlessly appreciative of their fans. If Mayday Parade did not have such a loyal following that evening, they would have been a tough act to follow.
A minute or two into “Disdain,” Taylor shouted to the crowd “Yo let’s get the floor moving!” and a circle pit opened – much to the horror of some of the overprotective parents of teenage girls.
During their seven song set, constant crowdsurfing and a sense of chaotic freedom filled the venue. This modern hardcore five piece brings Southside Chicago grit to the stage. As they moved into “But Why Would You Care” hardcore energy unraveled the seams of their restraint, but with the ease of a more approachable sound. They are less practiced and fine tuned than Mayday Parade. Knuckle Puck is angry, emotional, and down to earth, with a permeable silver lining. Chanted backup vocals, bright upbeat percussion, and melodic guitars lend movement to their performance.
In a short period of time, they covered tracks from all their past releases spanning the past five or so years. A real highlight of the set was “No Good.” Lyrics like, “Where’s your respect?
And didn’t your father teach you anything before he left?” make for angsty, passionate, singalongs that reverberate in the most broken and calloused parts of the audience’s hearts. Both Milestones and Knuckle Puck wanted the audience jumping; they clearly thrive when an audience is fully involved and having the best experience possible.
“No Good” moved quickly into “Gold Rush” off the group’s 2014 EP Split. Taylor’s vocal delivery is a little raw live, (he seemed to be messing with his in ear monitor throughout the night) but fortunately Knuckle Puck is at their best when things are a little rough around the edges. During a guitar break, the band graciously helped a fan who had lost a phone in the pit. They group is clearly comprised of genuine, nice people but they still have a kind of dirty swagger that is grungy and highly appealing.
During their short set, they pleased long time fans with songs like “Give Up,” which was one of their first tracks ever written, but also hit tracks from their full length debut Copacetic. The record was released in 2015, so at the rate they have historically released music, we are due for a new record soon. Every band that played that night made sure to dedicate a song to the fans, as a thank you for their support. Even in their appearance, Knuckle Puck has a rare down to earth quality. They are not covered in thousands of dollars of tattoos. They don’t wear t shirts from the latest alternative brands. Their approach is direct and digs deep.
When you sing a long with lyrics like, “I’m just a boy from broken homes, with so many problems and broken bones, who’s constantly let down” you can feel your own past culminating into a moment of release, surrounded by loud music and sweating bodies. The angst bonds us, as do our pasts, whatever they may be, but there is a hope that prevails. What a better reason to live than for the moments spent crashing into one another on a whirlwind Tuesday night at a show like this.
Knuckle Puck ended their set on “Untitled” also off 2015’s Copasetic, their performance far different than Mayday Parade’s. There were less smiles, and more bruises being earned in the pit. I found myself leaving the venue pleased with Mayday Parade’s performance, but with songs from Knuckle Puck permeating my brain. If you have not checked this group out yet, they are a must see act. They bring real, unrelenting charisma to the stage and will leave you craving more.