It’s 8:30 PM on a cold, windy October night in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m walking up to the doors of a venue I have never been to before, unsure of what to expect from the night. Like many millennials, pop-punk was a phase that I went through, long, long ago, but it is by no means my go-to genre when seeking out new bands. However, as someone who loves to experience new things in the world of music, I walk through the doors with an open mind, and ready for whatever comes my way.
Upon entering, I quickly realized that showing up fashionably late is not an idea that is practiced in the Twin Cities Pop-Punk scene, as the venue was already clearly at capacity. I was able to work my way to a place where I could finally observe the show just as California-natives, Movements, wrapped up their emphatic set, and started to break down their equipment.
Luckily for me, many members of the Twin Cities Pop-Punk scene, while very punctual, also enjoy the occasional cigarette, so as the bands were changing over and everyone went outside to shorten their lifespan, I was able to find a spot on the side of the room much closer to the stage.
Going to shows where I know little-to-nothing about any of the bands I am seeing beforehand has always been something I enjoyed. I like this because I think there is no better way to experience a band for the first time than seeing them perform live. Anyone can sound good when you have endless amounts of opportunities to get your guitar riff just right on a recording, or certain plugins that can turn even the most unfortunate sounding individuals (myself included!) into whatever you want to sound like; but when you walk out on that stage, and the lights come on, either you have it, or you don’t.
With Confidence, a four-piece band out of Sydney, Austrailia, definitely does have it. Commanding the stage with the confidence and demeanor of veterans in the industry, this group of young guys, still very much in the “holy shit this is amazing we are playing our music in front of real people who know all the words to our songs in a country we are not even from this is insane!” phase of their career, won over the crowd within seconds of stepping on stage, and made everyone in that room a fan of theirs last night.
After With Confidence wrapped up, and after another brief changeover, it was time for the headliners, South-Chicago natives, Knuckle Puck. I knew a little more about them than the other bands I saw but still went in with an open mind and no expectations.
As they step out onto the stage, the crowd goes absolutely nuts, and I immediately realize I have no idea what I have gotten myself into. I am experiencing something that I have never felt at a concert before; the building is literally shaking. The floor is moving from everyone jumping up and down, and the walls are physically shaking. This is pure insanity, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
For over an hour, Knuckle Puck blast through every hit in their arsenal, with the crowd shouting every single word straight back towards the stage they were coming from. For a moment, the crowd of less than a thousand felt like it could have filled the Xcel Energy Center. After thanking the crowd about a thousand times for supporting them and their friends, Knuckle Puck wrapped up their set, and everyone spilled out onto the streets eager to share stories with their friends of the show they were just at, together.
The support and love this community has for the artists that come through the Twin Cities is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and I am looking forward to the next opportunity to enjoy it again.