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British band Bastille impresses on first headlining U.S. Tour

At press time, British band Bastille will have just returned home after completing their first ever headlining U.S. tour, following a number one album and hit single in “Pompeii.” I was lucky enough to get tickets (which I purchased months in advance) to their sold out September 29 show in Philadelphia.

The concert took place at Union Transfer, a venue that opened in 2011 and is known for hosting concerts of the indie and alternative rock variety. Never having been to Union Transfer before, I was a bit nervous pre-show, especially when I saw the line of concertgoers snaking down the street and around two corners. (Admittedly, I showed up a bit later than I’d originally planned, only a half hour before doors opened at 8 p.m.) However, once the venue’s doors were opened, the line proved to be fast moving and my sister and I were able to score second row spots with a perfect view of everything on stage. Inside, the venue was gorgeous, with ornate wooden ceilings and several grand, glass chandeliers — definitely an unexpected contrast to the type of music that’s usually performed there.

I was unfamiliar with both of the opening acts, Nightmare & the Cat and Little Daylight.  I was surprised to find that I very much enjoyed Little Daylight’s set; Nightmare & the Cat played well, but were not quite my taste.

Bastille came onstage around 10 p.m. to wild cheering and immediately launched into their set. Throughout the next hour or so, they played several songs from their album Bad Blood, including singles “Laura Palmer,” “Bad Blood” and “Things We Lost in the Fire,” as well as tracks like “Oblivion,” “These Streets,” “Overjoyed,” “Icarus” and others. They also played a couple of covers, “What Would You Do?” and “Of the Night,” which both appeared on a two-part album of remixes they released in 2012 called Other People’s Heartache. Between songs they sometimes played sound samples, for instance clips of the show Twin Peaks’  theme song and audio from the movie Requiem for a Dream; movie and TV sound clips are found woven throughout their remixed tracks, so it was a nice touch to bring that to the live show.

I was impressed by the musical skill of each band member, which was made all the more evident when seen in person. The drummer Woody moved from drum kit to electric drum pad and then to simply clapping beats with ease. Kyle, the keyboardist, was also a master of backup vocals and sound effect buttons, while Will helped out on the keyboard on some songs and played bass during others. Lead singer Dan also played the keyboard and worked a big bass drum throughout the night, especially on the closing song, their hit single “Pompeii.”

Regarding their stage presence, all the guys seemed very down to earth and were humbled by what they said was one of their largest crowds on the tour thus far. Dan admitted he was amazed that so many people showed up to hear them play in a city so far from their home; of course, it’s not that surprising considering their success this past year, but it’s still new to them. They were visibly excited, jumping around the stage and even accidentally knocking over mic stands and equipment a few times. Dan chatted with the crowd and explained that the shirt he had on was a gift from a fan he’d received at a small, acoustic gig earlier that day, a fact that I found endearing.

The best part of the night? While singing their song “Flaws,” Dan hopped off the stage and waded his way through the entire crowd, security guards trailing behind and holding the mic’s wire above the audience’s head. It was an amazing experience to watch him sing literally inches away from my face; he even brushed against me before returning to the stage! It was a moment I won’t soon forget. Oh, and while all this was happening, he continued to sing “Flaws,” well, flawlessly.

The concert was certainly a memorable one; it introduced me to a cool venue and gave me a chance to see one of my new favorite bands before they become too big. But even if it means gigs with bigger crowds and the end of Dan’s strolls through the audience, I hope they do become even bigger — they deserve it.

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British band Bastille impresses on first headlining U.S. Tour