Live Review: iDKHOW // O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 03.07.24


Returning to London after a three-year absence, it’s fitting that iDKHOW opens their set with ‘SPKOTHDVL’, one of their more recent releases. In part a response to how fans react when an artist changes their sound (“turn the record off because it doesn’t sound like them”), the first song of this electric gig is confident, self-assured and immediately has the crowd on its feet.

At Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the energy of the audience across all three floors is palpable. The screams begin as soon as the first song’s closing notes ring out, and before the applause has had the chance to fade the band jumps into ‘Do It All The Time’ and ‘Clusterhug’, both of which are met with rabid approval. Before frontman Dallon Weekes has even addressed the crowd, there’s a heady atmosphere of excitement about the place.

When he does pause to speak, Weekes holds impressive control over the audience, modulating the noise levels with a wave of his hand and silencing the crowd with the slightest gesture. More impressive still is the control he holds over his own voice, swaying between octaves with ease and never losing strength over the more than 90-minute show. As if to prove this prestige, the first encore, ‘Nobody Likes The Opening Band’, concludes with a descending scale and an extended final note.

Weekes meanders across the stage between songs, with a patter that is often delightfully nonsensical, pausing once or twice to lament the band’s bad luck. On the Gloomtown tour alone they’ve dealt with a bus fire and account hacks, and something of an elephant in the room is the absence of founding member Ryan Seaman, who left the band under a shadow in late 2023.

While it’s initially strange to see Weekes on stage without the drummer, the addition of Anthony Purpura, Isaac Paul and Ronnie Strauss quickly subdues any concerns that the act is any weaker for it. A bigger band both gives Weekes people to bounce off of and boosts the overall power of the performance, these live musicians a far cry from the pre-recorded tracks used to accompany the band’s earlier gigs.

Similarly more polished is the lighting design, which builds to create a warm, comforting space even amid the screams of the crowd. It really contributes to the ‘in-crowd’ sense that iDKHOW’s shows have, the feeling that you’re part of something special. Concert audiences can get a bad rap, especially post-Covid, but this show was a real reminder of what a great experience it can be to celebrate the music you love with people who care about it just as much as you do.

You don’t get to sit back and just enjoy the music at an iDKHOW show; there’s a lot of audience participation, which is engaged with enthusiastically by fans and newcomers alike. Beyond the usual ‘clap along’ instructions, Weekes leads the crowd in call-and-response exercises and creates a harmonising choir for ‘A Letter’, while the audience spontaneously sings along to familiar bass lines acapella-style. It’s kind of like a cooler, chicer version of the primary school choir assembly, and creates a real sense of community and connection between the disparate groups that make up the audience.

These are some of the moments that fans have come to expect at an iDKHOW show, including with Weekes’ now well-known walk through the crowd during ‘Visitation of the Ghost’. Having seen this in the far more diminutive setting of the O2 Academy Islington during the band’s first London gig, it’s a reassurance that no matter how the band evolves its core essence remains the same. There’s no inflated sense of self-importance or pride on show, a similar approach taken to shows no matter the room capacity.

Whenever a band’s repertoire starts to grow, there are inevitable losses to the setlist; ‘Modern Day Cain’, the band’s first single, makes no appearance this time around, and neither does the popular ‘Absinthe’. Overall, though, only about a third of the performance is dedicated to tracks from recent release GLOOM DIVISION, leaving plenty of space for fan favourites including ‘Choke’, ‘Social Climb’ and ‘Leave Me Alone’.

As iDKHOW’s star continues to rise, there’s no doubt that it will go through different iterations and styles, replacing old traditions with new ones. But if the project’s evolution so far is anything to go by, it certainly won’t be worse off for it. Dallon Weekes knows what he’s doing, and it’s a joy to be along for the ride.

Words by Lucy Carter

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