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Arctic Monkeys + Fontaines D.C. @ Pine Knob Theater 8/29/2023 (Concert Review by Saima S.)

Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C.–with former Palma Violets member Chilli Jesson as their bassist–opened to the moody atmosphere created by the downpour that started minutes before their set at the Pine Knob Theater. Frontman Grian Chatten broke the calm, indifferent facade he had during the first song when he took his tracksuit jacket off and began skipping and swaying in circles to “Televised Mind” while banging his tambourine. He seemed to be having a lot of fun as he stood on the edge of the speakers and flailed his mic stand in the air. However, the crowd reciprocated with a few forced head nods and looks of confusion. The 14-year-old girls and millennial AM fans of the pit seemed to be a little scared of Fontaines D.C.

The band remained unruffled and almost seemed prepared for this reaction. With a well-crafted setlist of their relatively tamer songs, they delivered a smooth yet lively performance of “Roman Holiday,” which seemed to engage the audience the most out of their show. It’s truly a bummer that the unruly, and slightly hazardous audience you would expect to see with a band like Fontaines D.C. was nowhere to be found. Fontaines D.C.’s consistently vibrant set is definitely a highlight of this tour, even if Clarkston, Michigan wasn’t ready for it. 

Arctic Monkeys began the show by setting off their large ominous glowing ring to the intro of “Sculptures of Anything Goes.” Hidden behind the thick fog and a pair of sunglasses, frontman Alex Turner slowly crept onto the dimly lit stage. The lights finally came on for “Brianstorm,” revealing Turner in a silly mood. Embodying the dancing man emoji, Turner sported a sassily unbuttoned button-up shirt as he energetically danced into the next song, “Snap out of it.” He stared deep into my camera’s soul and even gave me a double thumbs up. 

I heard echoes of “Crying Lightning” and “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” on my golf cart ride through the muddy parking lot to drop off my camera gear and the experience was surreal. I thankfully got back to the pavilion just in time for “Cornerstone,” and I truly appreciated the coverage of their 2009 album, Humbug. There were plenty of songs from their album AM–that is, when Turner wasn’t asking the crowd how they were doing and referring to us as “pine knobs.” It felt as if every single person in the Pine Knob Theater transformed into a teenage girl when they played Intro to “Arabella,” with the audience shrieking, jumping, and screaming to the infamous guitar riff. 

The giant Arctic Monkeys branded mirror ball that had been looming over the band their entire set was finally lowered at the end of “There Better Be a Mirrorball,” and it was genuinely beautiful. Usually, Turner’s disregard for the pace of his songs while performing live is confusing yet slightly entertaining, but his changes to “505” sounded mature and reflected the new direction the band is taking as seen through their most recent album.  I appreciated how they stuck to the slower, more dramatic sound they are pursuing with their more recent albums, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino and The Car, while still delivering the classics that everyone loves. The whole band poured their hearts into their performance of “Body Paint” and expressed a true passion for their new material.Turner also managed to do an impressive amount of lunges and squats while belting his lungs out. The superb set, lighting, and video design throughout the show truly made the night memorable. 

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