LIVE REVIEW: Knuckle Puck, Hot Mulligan, O2 Academy Islington, 01/06/2022
There is a certain beauty about bands scheduled to appear at festivals, meaning special one-off shows and mini national tours pop-up surrounding these dates and for Chicago pop-punk outfit Knuckle Puck, they were one of them. A slice of pop-punk goodness was served up in the run up to Slam Dunk Festival 2022 by none other than West Coast’s Knuckle Puck; a band coming hot off the heels of releasing their 2022 EP Disposable Life, a body of work brimming to the core with raw emotion, pure passion and high-octane energy throughout its five feel-good songs.
However tonight, Knuckle Puck’s setlist was saturated full of the band’s pop-punk best. Before then, post-emo inventors Hot Mulligan; another band set to appear at Slam Dunk Festival that same week warmed-up the show with a nervous energy for their first slew of UK shows ever. That energy soon warmed up into a glowing set of excitement, so-much-so later on that evening the band received warm words from their hosts “Hot Mulligan were hot right?”
“Tonight is sold the fuck out” starts Knuckle Puck’s vibrant vocalist Joe Taylor, emphasising his personal love for all things the UK, continuing “We are extremely blessed to be playing shows, let alone in London. I’d come back here every week if I could” and who wouldn’t have Knuckle Puck permanently this side of the Atlantic Ocean, when the band kicked off their pure pop-punk setlist with Disdain, a track taken from their 2015 album Copacetic. West Coast over on the UK coast, it was clear to see Knuckle Puck was about to put on the hottest pop-punk sold out show in London Town.
“If you know the words to this one, come this way” beckons Taylor to the crowd to get on surfing before delving into some new material with lead single Gasoline from the band’s latest EP. “We put out an EP before we came over here called Disposable Life. This one is called Gasoline” remarks Taylor, the song starting off slow and steady before erupting into a fast and joyous scene, one that most certainly wins the race.
Elsewhere, Want Me Around contains one of the biggest sing-a-long style choruses of the night, one that saw 800 people sing about a picture-postcard perfect image of a relationship, yet under the surface, all is not plain sailing. Shortly after, Green Eyes (Polarized) taken from 20/20 gets an outing, one that “is groovy” as proclaimed by Taylor before instructing the audience that “London, we got to crank this shit up to eleven. Let’s move” the crowd were warm putty in the band’s hands, moving around the room like a wave-filled sea of joyous bodies having the best time.
Coming to the end of the set, closer No Good rocked O2 Academy in Islington for one last hurrah, one which marked a triumphant return for the band’s drummer John Siorek, after taking some time out of touring duties following hand surgery. Back better than ever before, Siorek and co. climaxed the band’s set with No Good, the mosh pits and crowd surfing in abundance one last time for the hottest pop-punk sold-out show in town. 9.5/10
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood