Touring with the release of their second studio album, Shapeshifter, popular pop punk band Knuckle Puck took to the Crowbar stage this Friday night. Originally from the south side of Chicago-a fact they seemed very proud of and reminded the crowd of multiple times throughout the night-the band is the perfect mix between traditional pop punk and emo styles. After releasing a series of EPs and touring in support of massively idolized punk bands like Neck Deep, The Maine, and Man Overboard, Knuckle Puck released their first studio album Copacetic in 2015 after signing with Rise Records. The album went on to be a heavy hitter earning them a nomination in the Alternative Press Music Awards. The band began their second headlining tour the day before the release of their sophomore album Shapeshifter on October 13th. In support, they brought along Knuckle Puck bassist Ryan Rumchak’s side project Homesafe, alternative emo rock band Movements, and Australian pop punk band With Confidence.
The Crowbar was practically built for the scene with their poster covered dark wood and dim lighting, and the Knuckle Puck lineup didn’t disappoint. With practically no separation between the band and the crowd, fans literally lined the edges of the stage. Despite Knuckle Puck not gracing the stage till almost three hours later, the venue was pretty packed for the first openers. Homesafe played favorites like “Hourglass” and “Stranger” from their most recent release Evermore while the crowd sang along loudly. Movements took the stage next and the crowd surfing really kicked up. Lead singer, Patrick Miranda, apologized to the crowd for being a little under the weather and asked that they help him along which no one had any problem doing. One particularly helpful fan hopped on stage, took the mic from Miranda and belted out the next verse to the song while Miranda happily stepped aside with a laugh and a pat on the back. The third opener, With Confidence, had everyone off their feet with lively pop punk hits like “Voldemort” and “Archers.” It was impossible not to move to songs like “Higher” even if you didn’t know a single word of it. The talent, high energy, and confusion over Ybor City chickens of these openers made for an eventful start and seriously set the bar for Knuckle Puck.
From the moment Knuckle Puck stepped onto the stage, the energy in the venue was palpable. After urging from the lead singer, Joe Taylor, the crowd squeezed in as close as possible as he leaned in and practically serenaded the fans with the opener “Gone” off their latest album Shapeshifter. In typical pop punk fashion (and I mean this as the highest form of compliment), Knuckle Puck stormed onto the stage filling the room with a sound you just can’t keep from banging your head to. From the front row to the back doors, everyone was off their feet as they screamed the lyrics to “Double Helix.” The band continued to play a mix of songs from their various EPs and two studio albums with a steady stream of crowd surfers reaching out to get a chance to join them on stage. Taylor and bassist, Ryan Rumchak, encouraged this even going as far as holding a contest to determine the best crowd surfer. A member from one of the openers debuted as the unbiased judge of this contest after some begging from Taylor. They judged the impressive backflips from a few particularly talented fans on a scale from 1-10 but remembered to encourage safety overall. Knuckle Puck surpassed expectations bringing more intensity and passion to the stage than possibly present in studio versions of the songs. The drummer, John Siorek did not hold back and came through perfectly with the insanely heavy sounds in “Pretense” and “Double Helix.” Throughout the night, the band continuously engaged the crowd and thanked everyone for selling out the venue, one of many on their tour. Knuckle Puck unexpectedly came out for one more song after minutes people begging for an encore and bounced back and forth on what song they would even play. After their final note, fans (not so) patiently stood by the side of the stage (Anna and I included!) hoping to get a hug and word in with one of the incredibly talented guys. Members of Knuckle Puck kindly stopped for each agreeing to pictures with huge smiles.
-By music volunteers, Adrianna Montgomery and Alyssa Chandler