Citizen share a moment of catharsis in Glasgow

Michigan quintet Citizen inspire a stage invasion during set's closing moments

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Citizen have come a long way since their last Glasgow show at Audio in 2013.

With critically acclaimed record Everybody Is Going To Heaven under their belts, a mature departure in sound from their last release Youth, the midwest indie punk band have played a string of sold-out shows across the States and Europe, and have definitely carved a name for themselves among their ever-expanding 90s emo revival ilk.

As they kick off their set with The Summer, frontman Mat Kerekes – hands firmly gripping the mic and his Nike cap pulled down low over his eyes – snarls “Why did you wait for the summer to chew and spit me out?” with raw sincerity.

The pounding drums for Everybody Is Going To Heaven’s opening track Cement echo through the room and the crowd vigorously bounce along. The eerie haunting guitar and Kerekes’s low, trance-like chanting hint at the dark, brooding introspection which lingers throughout their second record.

His face beading with sweat and a large vein pulsing in his temple, Kerekes’s agonized, full-throated screams break out during Stain and Numb Yourself, while the guitarists slowly writhe amid a wall of wailing feedback.

Several people lunge offstage during Roam The Room, and the infectious vocal interplay between guitarist Nick Hamm and Kerekes as they sing “I’m done” becomes a stirring call-to-arms. The crowd struggle to keep everyone afloat as a few bodies tear through and land on the floor, while onlookers flinch in horror. Undeterred, each brush themselves off and leap back on stage again.

The room mellows out as the slow, sentimental ambience of Yellow Love lulls in the air, the gentle strumming of the guitar and billowing smoke curling over the stage. Eyes closed as if in prayer, Kerekes’s lips mouth silently close to the mic between verses, seemingly unaware of anyone else in the room. This seemed to add to the frontman’s deep enigma. What was he saying – and to whom?

As the set slowly draws to a close with Youth track The Night I Drove Alone, the venue is a melange of catapulting bodies. The bitter, visceral drawl of “I should have crashed the car” strikes an emotional chord as the entire room screams back in harmony. Kerekes dangles the mic stand over the frenzied crowd as they shout the last line, “And you talk like someone else.” The last guitar note fades out, leaving the song on an anguished hinge which begged for more release.

As Citizen thank the crowd and began to leave the stage, the room start chanting “one more song” in unison. When the lights slowly flick on and fans’ hopes began to dwindle, the five members walk back on and resume their places, the crowd whoop in appreciation. Kerekes, who had complained that he was beginning to lose his voice earlier on in the set, asked everyone to help him perform fan favourite Drown – and they didn’t disappoint.

Around half a dozen people storm the stage, diving and, in one case, somersaults into the crowd. A bespectacled guy in his early 20s gladly takes on vocal duties while an exhausted Kerekes takes a backseat for a couple of minutes, holding the mic out to fans at the front who know every word. Laden with hooks, battering drums and the caustic, jaded lyrics which no doubt resonate with Citizen’s fans, Drown is a heartfelt, shared moment of catharsis that concludes the show on a lasting high and remind us that you’re never truly alone at a punk show.

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.