Urban conflict literature has attempted new comparisons between contested cities in conflict zones and cities with no armed conflict. This literature tends to use representational frameworks around defensive planning and normative government discourses. In this article, I propose to expand these frameworks and to engage with epistemologies of lived experience to produce new relational accounts linking “conflict cities” with “ordinary cities”. The article accounts for the lived, sensory and atmospheric in exploring the legacies of conflict on the everyday urban environments. It then reflects on the everyday and experiential effects of counterterrorism in ordinary cities. While this is designed to minimize threat, it also alters urban spatiality in a way reminiscent of urban conflict zones. It then explores the unequal impacts of counterterrorism across urban publics, and their experiential connections with practices of counterinsurgency. The article is structured around two ‘shockwaves’ entwining lived experiences across seemingly unrelatable urban settings.