Written by Robert B. Johnson (@RobertSatellite on Twitter)
ImageBastille was the hot ticket in town. Sold out for months, Bastille entered the April 23rd show at Houston’s House of Blues riding a wave of enthusiasm. Bastille hit the scene fast and hard. Although formed in 2010, Bastille released its first full length album, Bad Blood, in March 2013. By the time it released “Pompeii” as a single, Bastille was on an upward trajectory shared by few bands in today’s music industry. Extraordinarily catchy, “Pompeii” became the band’s anthem, getting Bastille exposure on stations across the globe, and even a gig on Saturday Night Live.

No Cookie Cutter Performance

Straight away, Bastille made an excellent choice by taking the stage to the Twin Peaks theme song. Haunting, yet melodic, the Julee Cruise song “Falling” felt like the perfect introduction for Bastille. It provided contrast, as the music of Bastille is energetic, rhythmic, and full of life. With that, the band started the night with “Bad Blood.”

From the start of the night, it was obvious that the band’s execution would be exceptional. Beginning to end, “Bad Blood” sounded perfect, yet not a cookie-cutter reproduction of the album version. In fact, as the setlist ticked by, Bastille nailed everything. Lead singer Dan Smith’s voice was pitch perfect and silky smooth. On “Overjoyed” the band members met at the front of the stage. With the musicians physically closer to the fans, they performed a relaxed, yet refined version of “Overjoyed.” As Smith played piano and sang, his band-members slowly accompanied him in the song, creating a gradual build filled with emotion. Before “Oblivion,” Smith commented on the energy in the venue.

“This is wicked.”

Indeed, as the night progressed, there was no shortage of goosebumps. It certainly was wicked. And with “Oblivion,” it was apparent just how much Smith believes in the music and wants the audience to feel it. By far the most intimate song of the night, “Oblivion” was stripped of the excess, and featured primarily soft piano riffs and dynamic, sensual vocals.

So Much Energy

Simply put, Bastille is fun. Singer Dan Smith embodies perpetual motion while on stage. For the fans, it’s much of the same. For songs like “Things We Lost in the Fire” and the aforementioned “Pompeii,” the fans sang every word. Standing at the edge of the arena, one could see a sea of bodies all moving in unison, with their heads making waves across the arena floor. On their toes, dancing, and singing along, the fans enjoyed every second of the Bastille performance. Not only was it well done musically, but the band brought a special energy that complemented the live performance perfectly.

In the End

By the end of the night, a few things stuck out. Bastille performs without live guitar. Instead, the band relies heavily on bass lines, piano, and slick drum riffs. This falls in line with what’s on the album, but it’s particularly interesting to see live. Certainly, it’s nice to see a band that can break the trend and do something different.

ImageThe band members seem like genuinely good people. For many, it can be a shock to see a favorite band and then find them to be jerks. Bastille doesn’t have a pretentious act. For the most popular song, “Pompeii,” Bastille shared the spotlight with the opening act. In combat sports, that’s called “giving the rub.” Essentially, the band-members took the moment of the show where they’d shine the brightest and shared it with others. It made them just seem downright friendly. In fact, just prior to the encore, Smith found a cell phone on stage. In the excitement of the evening, a fan’s phone was knocked out of his hands. Smith took time between songs to find out who the phone belonged to, and returned it with a smile.

Finally, it was apparent that Bastille put a great amount of thought into stage lighting. It added character to many songs, but was absolutely critical for the storytelling of songs like “Poet” and “Overjoyed.”

Bastille is destined for great things. Although tickets may be hard to come by, make every effort to catch this act live. At the end of the night, you’ll just feel good.

Bad Blood
Weight of Living, Pt. II
Laura Palmer
Laughter Lines
These Streets
The Silence
The Draw
Things We Lost in the Fire

Daniel in the Den
Of the Night

Contact Robert at robert@starsandsatellites.com or @RobertSatellite on Twitter.