Story and photo by Kamila Daurenova, Contributing Writer
After taking the world by storm with their debut album “Bad Blood” in 2013, Bastille have had quite the three years. After having toured with Muse before setting out on their own international tour, won the BRIT Award for Best Breakthrough Act, and performed for thousands at Coachella and Glastonbury festivals, the British alternative pop quartet played a sold-out show at the Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 5.
The band’s second LP “Wild World” took center stage for the night. The new album feels very current with its muted electronic beats, EDM-style builds and drops and the prominent guitar presence from Will Farquarson. Written by frontman Dan Smith, the songs feel like a step out of his comfort zone but remain true to the band with belt-out anthemic choruses and hand-clapping rhythms that have become their trademark.
The single “Good Grief” opened the show with catchy synths singling down to a fist-pump beat. Smith set the bar for energy high for the night with “The Currents,” showcasing his impressive ability to perform masterful riffs and pogo dance simultaneously.
“An Act of Kindness” was the first song that strayed away from the sound that’s come to be expected from the band. The start of the song matched the vulnerability and raw emotion of Smith’s lyrics, addressing a helping hand given at a time of anxiety. After a collage of pre-recorded and live vocals, the slow introduction gave way to dance track that was impossible to not move along to.
The energetic track “Glory” was rearranged for the night, stripped back and reminiscent of the band’s popular ballad “Oblivion.” The lyrics “you make me laugh until I die” rang out through the venue as the crowd sang along in anticipation of Smith’s perfect falsetto. It was almost a shame that this was the only song on which harmony vocals from Kyle Simmons and Farquarson were prominently heard, as the depth they added to the music would be a welcome addition to the other tracks.
Bringing his over-the-pond manners to stage, Smith apologized for the depressing song and moved on to the next highlight of the night “Two Evils.” While the guitar is hardly a rare instrument, it was completely absent from Bastille’s first album, so hearing a track of solely voice and plucked guitar felt different and refreshing. The chilled-out, soulful song had a blues sound that felt like a breath of fresh air amongst one too many belted-out choruses.
The last three songs really tied the night together, with the energy of the audience rising to match that of the tireless band. Smith stepped out into the crowd for flaws, making rounds through the main floor and balcony and bringing bewildered fans to tears. “Pompeii” was a natural closer; the song you tell yourself you’re tired of until you catch yourself chanting “eh eh oh eh oh” at the top of your voice. With his flawless delivery and complete ownership of the stage, it is almost hard to believe that Smith considers himself an introvert and admits to struggle with performing. While the second album might not have the meteoric appeal of “Bad Blood,” it shows the band from a new side — one that they should definitely keep exploring.
Email Kamila Daurenova at firstname.lastname@example.org.