Your Front Page Boy’s Finally Here

iDKHOW @ The Axis Club

Catching Dallon Weekes as he fell backwards into the crowd wasn’t at all what I expected when I bought these tickets. This, alongside a cheeky allusion to the singer’s past with Panic! At The Disco would have sent middle school me into a complete state of shock. I can say, with no hesitation, that I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME on April 2nd at The Axis Club was easily one of my favourite shows that I’ve seen in the city so far. While many groups with fame in the emo and adjacent scenes have been straying from their original sound and making obscene amounts of money on cash grab tours, iDKHOW is not one of them. There was something very honest behind this tour and especially the performance that I saw. Following a scandal with their previous drummer, the former duo has dwindled to just one. There was no hint of insecurity though, as Weekes waltzed around the stage with the confidence that I wish I’d had when I was 13. Not only was there a perpetual dose of nostalgia and constant reminders that so much has changed since I first got into iDKHOW, but the notion of being so close to an artist you’ve followed through three separate bands and several lineup changes was what made this night so undeniably special. 

Benches photographed by Finch Strub

I have no doubt in my mind that iDKHOW is tough to open for. While I appreciate the fact that their lead singer could easily replace Timothée Chalamet in his next film, benches’ music felt like a knockoff version of Ontario’s own Tokyo Police Club. Though TPC may be headed towards their final tour and subsequent retirement, it might be a little early to take their place. That being said, I did like them as an opener. They are what I would categorize as obnoxiously indie, playing into every stereotype from the font of their logo to their demeanor onstage. However, this doesn’t detract from their performance as a whole. They’d fit perfectly into a Lady Bird-esque A24 film, all shaggy hair and expensive guitars. Their sound, however overdone, made me feel more human after coming out of the cold queue. Everything from the bass that shifted my soul around in my body to the faux Julian Casablancas vocals felt familiar and comforting. Though I’d never heard of benches before they stepped onstage, I felt like I was already well acquainted with their music. With a clearly talented drummer, catchy riffs and a whole host of pretty boys to ogle from the third row, I can let their unoriginal California-infused sound go. Maybe originality doesn’t matter if you look good enough doing it.

Dallon Weekes of iDKHOW photographed by Finch Strub

Though the setlist was varied and full of hits, the song that got to me wasn’t one of iDKHOW’s most popular. At the end of the day, it’s who you think about while the crowd sings back the words to “Kiss Goodnight”. Hearing that song live was a stark reminder that I wasn’t a kid anymore, and that the people and things that mattered to me the first time I heard this track were no longer as important. Music acts as a kind of temporal placeholder, and even when everything changes it still remains embedded in a certain moment. While it can be sad, there’s also nothing like making new memories. An impromptu two-part harmony with the halves of the crowd was definitely a special moment, and also made Weekes’ Mormon past glaringly obvious. Aside from a whole host of religious allusions present within the band’s catalogue, this gospel-seeming opening to “The Letter” could have easily been present in a church. The crowd was rapt the entire night, making the singer’s job much easier during both this moment and when he split the audience like Moses in order to walk through. Undeniably, Weekes has a presence that could charm even the most resistant of onlookers. Dance moves, gestures along with the lyrics and the occasional joke onstage made him captivating to watch. Favouring the right side of the crowd worked in my favour, as the singer approached us often throughout the performance. Even during more vulnerable moments in the evening, he was still honest, singing

“if we can’t be at home, there’s only one place we’d rather be and that’s right here with you”

Even if it is clichéd, I still appreciated the sentiment. I’d be remiss not to mention the experience of hearing songs from their new record GLOOM DIVISION. It’s been on repeat for me since it dropped in February, and the fresh tracks fitted in seamlessly with the rest of the set, including a couple songs by The Brobecks. Bass heavy, bouncy and authentic to them, I found myself screaming along to all songs equally throughout the night. 

Though I’m not usually one to complain, this was a night with absolutely no notes. I’m a sucker for reminiscing, and this was certainly the concert to do it at. I might not be in middle school anymore, but this band is still as good as they were all those years ago. Striking the perfect balance between pensive and danceable, iDKHOW put on a phenomenal show. Stage presence, crowd interaction, great sound and nostalgia all came together to make me wish I had tickets to more dates on the tour.