Setting the Stage: Suffice to say, we’ve all had a bit of stress we’ve needed to get out of our systems. Knocked Loose have always been a good go-to for that, having been progenitors of assaulting hardcore for almost a decade now. Their most recent release, A Tear In The Fabric of Life, maintains Knocked Loose’s tendency to recognize sentimentality through heavy tones — even delving into a visual type of artistic expression with the short animated film associated with the album. As a band with a track record for entirely going the hell off during their live sets, the Kentucky outfit’s show at The Belasco in Los Angeles on April 21st was truly one for the books, somewhat displaying the human ability to mildly heal itself with soul crushing sounds.
Taking the Stage: The room fell to black, as people chanted and howled for the impending attack of headliners Knocked Loose. Saying that their live sets are like a brute religious experience is an understatement. From an instrumental standpoint, they evoke anxiety, frustration and sadness with ease and intention, tapping into the emotionality inside each individual with the conceptual aspects of their latest EP. Told from the perspective of someone in mourning after losing a loved one in a car crash, its premise was somewhat the depression cherry on top of a zeal established from the start of “When Light Divides the Holler.” Though some in the crowd seemed put off with the onslaught of rowdiness, the moshpit faithful were unrelenting in their delivery. Flashing hues of white, purple, green and blue illuminated revealed of an audience of savagely excited faces. Beer cups and ball caps flew through the air. Arms and legs swung around like bats, especially during Laugh Tracks songs “Oblivion’s Peak” and “Counting Worms.”
Not without some sentimentality, though. Knocked Loose have a history of acknowledging the struggle and supporting survivors of domestic abuse, so when they dedicated one of their tracks from A Different Shade of Blue to survivors, it mustered a collective appreciation from the crowd before everyone returned to freeing themselves of what they’ve had pent up for so long. Ending on “Permanent,” it seemed as though everyone experienced a cathartic relief, especially considering how tension was built up since the entire show began.
Movements took the stage prior to Knocked Loose, seemingly bringing a slight shift in audience along with the considerable shift in sound in comparison to the evening’s previous act, Kublai Khan TX. The pit area steadily filled out into a solid block of youths stoked for their special blend of “loud and sad” post-hardcore, fourth wave emo and pop punk. A gentle energy could be felt throughout the room until a mini pit started during crowd favorite “Third Degree,” with kids diving into the crowd with wild abandon — absolutely disregarding their physical parts and who they’re projecting onto. An enjoyable aroma of marijuana filled the air as people really settled into the madness of the setting. “Suffer Through” saw two kids who just finished their shifts at Starbucks moshing and crowd surfing in their aprons, ending with the incredibly energetic note of “Daylily.”
Kublai Khan TX’s set almost came out of nowhere in the midst of mild emo revival that bookended them. Of course, the foursome unsurprisingly delivered a Texan toughness of sheer metalcore justice. The audience was more than ready to move — not even seconds into “Swan Song” and pits sprouted up like weeds, throwing back to the old times of amicably violent pits / hardcore dancing. Barreling through tracks like “Us & Them,” “Self-Destruct” and “The Hammer” prompted a slew of stage dives, spin kicks and two-steps, but their set closer “Antpile” created a person-pile of sweatily satisfied patrons eager for another dose of jarred senses. Of note for those with an eye and ear for detail, drummer Isaac Lamb played entirely without a rack tom, which made the beats he blasted out hit a little harder.
Before them was a strong start with Koyo, the Long Island emo-tinged hardcore band with roots in quite a few touring bands but a real home in this one. To be first up wasn’t an indication of any lack of fierceness, as they shredded through tracks from Painting Words Into Lines and Drives Out East.
Knocked Loose were definitely the main draw but, as a whole, the entire lineup showcased how deep each band can stand and command attention on their own. It felt like a true return to normalcy — the type of convivial and carefree execution of a wildly turbulent gathering.
Knocked Loose’s Spring US tour with Movements, Kublai Khan TX, and Koyo continues through a May 8th show in Huntington, New York, with tickets available here. See video from Knocked Loose’s Los Angeles set below.