IDLES at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle

An excited sense of supernatural electricity quivered through Seattle’s historic Paramount Theatre; its energy sparked across the elbow-to-elbow sold-out crowd. The powerful sensation grew stronger in intensity as seconds sped by, enveloping the audience in an anticipatory state as they sensed the brutal musical beauty being held at bay backstage. Thankfully, IDLES, the five-piece Bristol-based band known for creating crushing contemplative chaos alongside dulcet-like seductive tones, were attuned to this surreal sensation. In the space of a breath, Jon Beavis, Mark Bowen, Adam Devonshire, Lee Kiernan, and Joe Talbot appeared and crossed the stage to take their places. Shortly after the delicately dark piano intro of “IDEA 101,” the opening track from IDLES’ 2024 release, TANGK bled into the air. Frontman Joe Talbot paced a few more times, then grabbed the mic, his resilient bon-sang voice cathartically grounding the crowd- albeit only momentarily.

As force majeures of massive sound matched with poignant, provocative lyrics, IDLES immediately moved into the harsh and heavy “Colossus” from 2018’s Joy as an Act of Resistance., which included Talbot swirling his mic overhead while Kiernan jumped into the throng of fans, body surfing while playing guitar. Their actions served as catalysts and ignited mosh pits that continued to ebb and flow throughout the band’s two-hour-plus show. 

IDLES plunged further into their carefully crafted set with a pantheon of songs highlighting their skills at succinctly exploring complex subjects with subversive slants. The resolutely uplifting thrashers “Gift Horse” (TANGK) and “Mr. Motivator” (2020’s Ultra Mono) suggested the magnificence found in embracing “the self” versus the powers that be, while the droning, dissonant painkillers “1049 Gotho” (2017’s Brutalism) and “The Wheel” (2021’s CRAWLER) tackled the dark, crippling weight felt amidst the throes of depression and sinister cycles of addiction.

Mid-set, the five-piece acerbic songwriters embraced their well-known anti-establishment stances by calling out colonialism’s role in modern-day politics with “f*ck the king” chants and calls for “ceasefire in Gaza” before they blasted into the ear-splintering “War” (2020’s Ultra Mono). IDLES brought the throngs of fans further into their fury, with Bowen and Keirnan bolting over barricades with guitars in arms as they surged into an emotionally fraught performance of “Benzocaine” (Brutalism). Afterward, Talbot gently serenaded the pair to return to the stage with a rendition of Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.”

Ready to venture further into more varied soundscapes, IDLES leaned into several tracks from TANGK - the eerie gray grit of “Gratitude” and the trippy experimental sawtooth buzzes in “POP POP POP – both with tactful yet abstract lyrics that examine how joy often resides in snippets of everyday life instead of momentous grandstanding successes.

IDLES returned to their rebellious roots with material from Joy as an Act of Resistance: the punk chords of positivity in “Television” and the aggressive harmonics in “Samaritans.” The latter included a shout-out to a father who hoisted his daughter on his shoulders for the duration of the performance. The five-piece continued with another round of rallying against conformity with the visceral “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” before Talbot and crew shifted gears back toward the present day by asking concertgoers, “Shall we dance?” After hearing a resounding “Yes!,” IDLES took their cue and broke into “Dancer” (TANGK), the hauntingly evocative single tackling the tricky concept of navigating love and loss. As the song’s hypnotic chords ended and drifted into the atmosphere, Bowen dropped his guitar and once again jumped into the audience. They immediately lifted him on their shoulders as he and his bandmates broke into “Danny Nedelko,” complete with the crowd singing along with the chorus.  As ambassadors of alt-ideology, IDLES ultimately ended their marathon concert with the biting “Rottweiler.” The last selections, both from Joy as an Act of Resistance, underscored why IDLES are pertinent today: they wholeheartedly write music that analyzes ruthless realism while striving to attain perfect altruism - a notion that at its core remains part of human nature.




Gift Horse

Mr. Motivator


Car Crash

I'm Scum

1049 Gotho


The Wheel






Divide and Conquer





The Beachland Ballroom

Never Fight a Man with a Perm


Danny Nedelko