British band Bastille arrived in the US buoyed by a wave of hype and the growing promise of a radio hit. Since striking gold with the sprawling, metaphor-filled love song “Pompeii”, Dan Smith (the group’s mastermind) & Co. have been pegged as the next big indie-pop crossover. But are they the real deal? After last night’s (July 23) gig at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, the answer is a resounding yes.
The intimate surrounds of the venue put a lid on Bastille’s wide screen, multi-media leanings but apart from occasionally hemming in the band’s frontman — Dan was literally climbing the walls (see gallery above) — the space restrictions put the emphasis back on the band’s tight musicianship and the 26-year-old’s bubbling energy and soaring voice.
Opening with the title track of their impending US debut, Bastille made a great first impression. They have a fuller sound than you’d expect from a four-piece band, which makes the perfect foil for Dan’s expertly calibrated howls. He looked every inch the rock star, prowling the stage with his trademark ’50s movie-star quiff and rad wolf t-shirt.
“Overjoyed” was an early highlight with all members jumping on keyboards to serenade the crowd with cascading synths. That treat gave way to European single “Laura Palmer” (and future hit by the crowd response) and a brief commentary from Dan about meeting hero David Lynch earlier in the day. “Haunt” from the similarly-titled EP cast a moody shadow over the room, which set the scene for the gorgeous “Things We Lost In The Fire”.
After a run of lilting, cinematic anthems, Bastille stripped it right back with ballad “Oblivion”. Dan showed off his powerful pipes and made the girls camped in the front row swoon with the lyrics. It wasn’t all forlorn love songs and melancholy-filled anthems. “Icarus” got the crowd on their feet, while a surprisingly great cover of Corona‘s cheesy 1995 US top 20 hit “Rhythm Of The Night” proved that the band doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
That only left somber UK hit “Flaws” and the song that got the ball rolling. Bastille caught lightning in a bottle with “Pompeii”. It’s one of those rare arty tracks with huge crossover appeal due to the catchy chorus, emotive vocal and distinctive chanting (best hook of the year). The budding hit sounds richer live and could get a statue moving. Dan and the boys came back for an encore but it’s a near impossible tune to follow.
Bastille returns for a mini US tour in September. Can’t wait.
Things We Lost In The Fire
Rhythm Of The Night
Were you there? Let us know what you thought of the show in the comments.