Wednesday May 22nd saw IDLES return to Los Angeles in the closing stages of their current US Tour, a little under a year since they last played a sell-out show in the city. This time they sold out Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre, almost twice the capacity of their last crowd at The Teragram Ballroom. With a show already booked in at the still bigger Wiltern in October, their growing audiences are testament to their awe inspiring, visceral live shows.
However, growing success comes with growing pains. I was unable to ascertain what the actual problem was. It could have been a late door opening or an inefficient security, but almost an hour after the advertised door time. The line still stretched around the block. Made even more criminal by the obvious buzz in the crowd about support band Fontaines D.C. and growing frustration that they had already taken the stage while most of the crowd were still outside.
The line, which unlike their last, was a little homogenously hipster, just about made it into the venue as drummer Jon Beavis hit the opening rim shots of Colossus. By the time the second part kicked in, I realized this was probably one, if not THE loudest gigs I’ve ever attended. And I’ve seen Motörhead. Twice.
As they launched straight in to Never Fight a Man with a Perm, another huge line was forming. This one in the bathroom to buy earplugs from the attendant. Who I hope at least cut the soundman in on his profits.
I don’t think you can write anything about IDLES’ live set that hasn’t already been written. You’re going to get a band whose thunderous, blistering music as they war dance around the stage is incongruous with their charming, funny and disarming inter-song banter. You’re going to get a band who break down the barrier between artist and audience. But most of all you’re going to get a show you’ll never forget. They’ve been touring for pretty much three straight years now. That can often result in a staid performance as they plough through things one more time, and a visibly strained relationship between band members as they live in each other’s shadow. Thankfully, IDLES have managed to avoid this. Finding new ways to have fun with the show and playing this set like it was both their first and last.
IDLES’ last show in Los Angeles was by far my favorite of 2018. There’s 6 months left of this year, but any other band will have to pull off something special, to take that crown from IDLES for 2019.