Knuckle Puck with Heart Attack Man and One Step Closer at Mahall’s

I got to Mahall’s right around 7pm (when doors opened), and there was already a large group of fans waiting in the foyer. Since there was an hour to kill until the show, I grabbed a veggie burger at the bar beforehand. One of the best parts about the venue is that people like to hang around before the show, so I ended up running into half of Knuckle Puck and a few friends in the bar. If you’ve never been, Mahall’s is a “live music venue, performance space, occasional art gallery, bowling alley” located in Lakewood, Ohio, a charming suburb of Cleveland. If you’re coming for a show, you’ll most likely be in the front room, across the foyer from the bar.

At almost 8:00, I checked in at the ticket counter (most shows at Mahall’s are will call), grabbed my favorite spot at the side of the stage (the best spot to watch the bands and get photos without getting crushed in the crowd), and waited for the music to start. 

One Step Closer

At 8:10, One Step Closer took to the stage. I had listened to one of their songs that morning, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect. They introduced themselves as “a straightedge band from Wilkes-Barre, PA,” and proceeded to rip into their first song (“The Reach” from their 2019 EP From Me To You). From the first verse, it was clear that a vocal majority of the crowd was already familiar with the band. A pit quickly opened up and bunch of audience members were ready to go and knew all the words! A bunch of others were not quite sure what was happening 😊

One Step Closer vocalist Ryan Savitski
One Step Closer vocalist Ryan Savitski

Personally, I found it quite interesting to have a hardcore band opening up for less heavy bands, but it worked quite well. One Step Closer played most of the songs from their 2019 EP, as well as both songs from their 2020 promotional release (a new song “Lead to Gray” and a cover of Turning Point’s “Broken”). Some songs encourage stage diving more than others, but the crowd was going wild the whole time regardless! If you’re attending the Knuckle Puck shows in Boston or Amityville, you’ll get to catch this great band before they cross the ocean for their European tour with Turnstile.

Heart Attack Man

Up next? Cleveland’s very own Heart Attack Man. The last time I saw them was at their album release show in 2019, which was also sold out. Watching them blow up in the last year and a half since I first played them on my college radio show has been absolutely wild and definitely well deserved. If you’re not familiar with HAM, they’re known for frontman Eric Egan’s internet shenanigans as much as their music. They’ve definitely got their marketing game on point and they continually cook up unique merch for their fans, including “I’ll Just Cut My Losses” knives, limited run thrifted and screen printed apparel, hockey jerseys, and ‘Psycho Beans’ coffee (you can grab those last two on the tour). They’ve never been afraid to be a little ‘out there’ and that’s part of what makes them so well loved.

Eric Egan (left) and Logan McNeal (center) from Heart Attack Man
Eric Egan (left) and Logan McNeal (center) from Heart Attack Man

Heart Attack Man kicked off their set with the title track of their 2019 album, Fake Blood. People started stage diving within seconds and that continued the rest of the night. After another song from their latest release, the band played 2018 single “Boring”, followed by “Surrounded by Morons”. Then “Cool Kids Table” from 2017’s The Manson Family where fans swarmed the stage (as is tradition) to sing/shout the bridge:

“Hey man, how have you been?

What’s up?

Haven’t seen you in months,” he says

And lights up a smoke

As I wonder how I’ll be made into the butt end of a joke

‘Cause that’s all I am these days

Begging for crumbs, at the edge of the cool kids table

After the throwback, Heart Attack Man brought it back to present with four more songs from Fake Blood. Then “100mg” from a 2018 split and followed it with the iconic song “Crisis Actor” (in which fans once again jumped on stage to grab the mic and scream the Miranda Rights). They finished up with “Sugar Coated” and a wall of death during the breakdown:

Overall, the band pulled together a great selection of songs from their discography. Even though they were an opener they still played 12 songs and I’m glad they played the ones they did. Two older songs I missed are “Life Sucks” (2017) and “99%.” but there’s always next time!

Knuckle Puck

Last but obviously not least was Chicago’s Knuckle Puck, who I’ve now seen 8 times! Thank you, Warped Tour (and RIP). I didn’t start seriously listening to them until after their tour with Citizen last May though, so this is the first time I’ve seen them headline while knowing the words to their songs. I was super excited to see them play – and in such an intimate venue!

Knuckle Puck vocalist Joe Taylor
Knuckle Puck vocalist Joe Taylor

They kicked off with “Double Helix,” a song from their most recent album Shapeshifter (released in 2017) and one of my favorite KP songs. Next were two songs from 2015 album Copacetic, followed by recently released “Tune You Out,” which I’m guessing will make an appearance on an upcoming album. Then another one of my favorite songs, “Want Me Around.” 

Afraid to call and see what’s good

Or is it simply understood?

There’s a reason you don’t want me around

Then a mix of songs from their two albums and earlier EPs, including “Your Back Porch” from The Weight That You Buried and “But Why Would You Care?” and “Oak Street” from While I Stay Secluded. Plus a new unreleased song entitled “Breathe” that you can see video of at the band’s hometown show last week:

Knuckle Puck ended their set with four amazing songs: “Untitled,” “Everyone Lies to Me,” “Gone,” and “Pretense.” I didn’t realize that I knew all the words to these songs, but singing along to them with such an enthusiastic crowd was an amazing feeling. “Untitled” is one of those songs that’s great recorded and even better live. Since they usually play “Everyone Lies to Me” at the beginning of the set (or not at all), hearing it at the end was surprising. “Gone” is one of the band’s most listened to tracks on Spotify, and for good reason; it’s one of those songs that you can easily latch onto the feeling of, even if you don’t immediately get all of the lyrics. “Pretense” is another one of those songs, and the chorus is a classic. 

Knuckle Puck and crowd at Mahall's
Knuckle Puck and the crowd at Mahall’s. If you look really close, you can see David Knox (of Real Friends) on bass. Ryan Rumchaks is (presumably) in the studio with the band he fronts, Homesafe.

It’s absolutely worth seeing Knuckle Puck live if you can. They always put on an incredible show, whether it’s on the main stage at Warped Tour or in a smaller venue like Mahall’s. They were super gracious too and stayed after the show to meet and take pictures with fans!

If you haven’t gotten tickets yet for this tour, I highly recommend doing so now. And if you aren’t able to make this run, you can catch Knuckle Puck opening up New Found Glory and Simple Plan this May through June.

Were you at this show? Add it to your Concert Archives!

Looking for more shows to catch this March? Check out 11 Great Tours Not to Miss This March.

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