Turnover brings twinkle and atmosphere to a punk rock promenade.
Turnover played to a sold-out Observatory in North Park on April 10, serving a revivatory dose of dopamine to all in attendance who were caught in the mid-week slump. Supported by artists Razorbumps, Reptaliens, and Turnstile, the evening was an eclectic blend of serenading shoegaze, high-octane hardcore, and ethereal indie rock. While at times this blend was perhaps more off-putting than harmonious, the dynamics were challenging enough to wake your ass up.
The Texas disco-punk three-piece Razorbumps opened the show with a gloomy, raging sound reminiscent of Devo or B-52’s, if they were just really, really pissed off. Following them was the Portland outfit Reptaliens, donning white jumpsuits, pixie girl wigs, and creeper platform shoes. The main attraction of their set was a crew member who would come on stage wearing different costumes, each more bizarre than the last.
The first of these was a towering cyclops creature with a single eyeball for its head. The next was an “American Psycho”-inspired character wearing a rain poncho over a full business suit and an Andy Warhol mask. This character then slowly and seductively removed each article of clothing in the middle of the stage until he revealed his boxers, which were adorned with several portraits of George Castanza. The final creature was a gilly-suit-clad alien who crawled in the bridge position across the stage.
Reptaliens closed their set, remarking, “Turnstile is up next, and they’re going to f— you up.” And they did just that.
Opening with “Real Thing,” the leading track off their latest album “Time & Space,” the East Coast hardcore ensemble blasted onto the stage, grabbing the whole room by the neck and throttling it violently. The five-piece group blazed through a ten-song set in under forty minutes, not once letting the energy in the room fizzle out. If you blinked, each member of the band would be in a different part of the stage, flailing mid-air in outbursts of aggressively youthful and energetic euphoria.
For a band that got its start playing shows that allowed crowds to rush the stage, Turnstile has adapted their persona notably well to barricaded venues. Even those concertgoers who stood perfectly still during the set ended up drenched in sweat from the surrounding chaos of the crowd.
Finally, Turnover meandered to the stage, which was decorated like a claymation short from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood if the show’s creators took a few tabs of acid before filming. At one point, a cheerful green-skinned mailman trotted across the stage, waving at the crowd and tossing envelopes carelessly in all directions. If he was trying to toss promotional material into the crowd, he missed.
Opening with “New Scream” and “Dizzy on the Comedown” from their previous record “Peripheral Vision,” the crowd’s reception for Turnover was audibly positive. They quickly followed with “Sunshine Type” from their latest release, “Good Nature,” which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums in 2017.
Where the co-headliner was notable for their heavier grooves and over-the-top energy, Turnover was much more reserved in both stage presence and musicality. Moody, reflective lyrics over twinkling guitars are a staple in the band’s sound, which was delivered without disappointment. The juxtaposition of energy dynamics between bands, however, may have played to Turnover’s disadvantage.
Mostly everyone in the room was still vibrating with enthusiasm from Turnstile’s electrifying set, and this energy found no appropriate outlet with Turnover’s dreamy showcase. The transition has a comparable effect to doing massive amounts of coke and then trying to sit through church. It’s challenging to let the shimmering vibes sink in with your adrenaline still pumping.
Each band brought something distinct to the show, but the order in which they brought those distinctions was jarring. While the grab-bag mix of genres and styles is appreciated when compared to the otherwise innocuously similar lineups that most artists have toured with, the order of the sets may have been better digested in a different arrangement. Overall, the evening was an engagingly ambitious showcase of variety within the alternative music scene, as well as an enjoyable night out.
Venue: North Park Observatory
Date: April 10, 2019
Image courtesy of Tyler Faurot