Knocked Loose With Deafheaven & Headbussa Live Review From SWX Bristol, 7th March 2024

Knocked Loose have felt ever present on UK shores but it felt like a long time since the Kentucky outfit has gone up and down across a full on headline tour. In that time, through festival appearances and the like, their live reputation has only continued to grow. Armed with last years devastating Upon Loss singles and brand new blistering track Blinding Faith, the hardcore tour that was whipping crowds up into a frenzy descended on Bristol.

Opening proceedings was a band that ticked a lot of boxes for a Knocked Loose opener. Repping Paris hardcore, Headbussa (7) were just what the doctor ordered for this bill. Whether you had already made your way to the front, queuing for merch and drinks or still filtering into the venue, you were greeted with the warm embrace of straight up hardcore. Elements of hip-hop make their way into the sound and that gives the whole thing a bit more bounce and momentum in sections. It never strays too far into that territory to become something else but when it’s there, it’s a welcome addition. If you look up Knocked Loose opener in the dictionary, it would probably be a band that isn’t known to many, that hardcore aficionados think are great and then everyone comes away happy. Nothing to complain about here. 

Then came the part of the evening that was sure to get a few divisive reactions. Headbussa were about as nailed on to go down well with this crowd as you can possibly imagine but the same cannot be said for Deafheaven (9). Murmurings of slightly confused crowd reactions during their set echoed across this tour and the Bristol stop, whilst generally very well received, still had lingering elements of that. Sandwiching blackgaze in between two hardcore bands is a bold move but for the majority, it seemed to pay off. 

If there’s one band from hardcore that can do it, it’s probably Knocked Loose and that certainly helped stack the deck a little more in their favour. If there’s one word that ties the two bands together, it’s overwhelming. Both in how abrasive and serene it can be, Deafheaven is an experience and to have that before a band like Knocked Loose is remarkable. They only get five cuts to play with in this support slot but leave their mark they certainly do. Divisive? Sure but for the people that went with it, they won’t soon forget seeing the two bands at the top of this bill back-to-back.

Finally, it was time for Knocked Loose (9) to take to the stage and just like many of their songs, they entered the room like the kool-aid man. Opening and closing their set with the Upon Loss singles is an incredibly effective use of both tracks. Not only does it bookend the set with two of their best tracks, the two huge mosh calls are perfect hellos and goodbyes. From the final moments of Deep In The Willow, it’s time to embrace the terror with the opening two tracks from their horror-themed EP, A Tear In The Fabric Of Life. The rendition of God Knows in particular, featuring guest vocals from Deafheaven’s George Clark, shows them at their absolute peak of drooling savagery. 

The majority of the rest of the set is made up of some of the major hitters from their first two albums, 2016’s Laugh Tracks and 2019’s A Different Shade Of Blue. The only other new addition would be the lead single off their upcoming third album, Blinding Faith. Knocked Loose have an incredible track record for creating moments in the set. It means that through all the assault on the senses breakdowns and air raid siren riffs, you always know where you are. The three-vocal approach breakdown in the middle of this track adds another one to the fold (it’s also just another great track in their catalogue so more of the same please). 

Maybe the best compliment you can pay to their live show is that it is how you would imagine it being when you’re sitting listening to the music, picturing the scene. In fact, pick nearly any track from their 16-song selection, be it particular highlights like Deadringer, Belleville or Billy No Mates, and revisit them after the set. That part that you thought would hit like an Anthony Joshua right hook, lands with exactly the impact you thought it would. Even better, any of the cuts here that maybe don’t shake you to your core in the same way, surely will after hearing it live. 

There simply isn’t anyone that is as good at what Knocked Loose do than Knocked Loose themselves. Seeing them turn up at a festival, turn the place into a dust cloud and leave is one thing but at their own shows is where you can really live in the sound. It’s a violent place to dwell but it also can’t be forgotten how incredibly fun it is at the same time. There’s a reason that KL are one of the few bands that are this heavy and abrasive yet seem to attract attention from outside of heavy music fanbases. Their live shows are an experience and for what it is worth, it’s almost more enjoyable a second time around now that your head isn’t just spinning from everything that is entering your ears. Knocked Loose have a real chance of being the biggest band that is this level of uncomfortable for most listeners. For all of their consistently great output and their ability to constantly one-up themselves, their live shows might go down as the most important factor in this becoming a reality.

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