Gig Review: Bastille At The Shrine Expo Hall

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

If the only song you know by Bastille is “Pompeii,” then you need to go back and listen through their entire album.

On Thursday night, the British phenom who seemed to soar to superstardom in the matter of months, played at the Shrine Auditorium to thousands of fans.

The crowd, many of whom had lined up since the morning, packed in the Expo Hall to watch Bastille’s opening acts, Grizfolk and Ella Eyre. Grizfolk, a Los Angeles band by way of different parts of the United States and Sweden, kicked off the night with gritty, upbeat tracks off their latest EP, “From The Spark.” This EP, which features singles like “The Struggle” and “Hymnals” were unique modern rock tracks that were particularly well received.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Next on the bill was Ella Eyre, a 20 year old UK chanteuse who has the talent and maturity well beyond her years. If you watched her set at The Shrine singularly, you wouldn’t be able to tell that she was an opener. Leaping onto a stage with a tight latex number, Eyre belted out multiple tracks from her discography, including “Deeper” and “If I Go,” the latter of which is nominated as one of BBC Radio 1’s Hottest Records this year. Acknowledging the fact that most of the audience is unfamiliar with her work, Ella encouraged the crowd to make up the words and have fun, which is exactly what opening acts are supposed to do.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

One commonality betwen the openers sets wasn’t the genre of music, but the reaction when the artists yelled “Are you ready for Bastille tonight?” The audience reaction was incredibly loud, to say the least.

Once the lights dimmed and the PA played the theme to “Twin Peaks,” the screams coalesced to form what can only be described as an ear piercing sound. Kicking off the set with “Things We Lost In The Fire,” Bastille drummed their way into Angelenos’ hearts. Following up with “Weight of Living Part II” and “Laura Palmer,” the British quartet showed off their vocal ranges as well as their new stage design. Boasting larger than life triangles (the band’s adopted symbol) and distinct but thematic visuals projected onto giant screens, the production value for the band has significantly increased since the band last performed at the El Rey Theatre last September.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

As the night went on, the show only improved. Having toured with their debut “Bad Blood” three times over the course of this year, the band refreshed their set list, adding more new wave songs like “Blame” and “The Driver,” which was recorded for BBC Radio 1’s re-scoring of the Ryan Gosling movie, “Drive.” Even though most of the audience was unfamiliar with those tracks, they were still well received and people did their best to bob along to the beat of the songs, which is markedly slower than their album material.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

The new tracks on the set list weren’t the only things that surprised the audience. In the middle of the set, lead singer Dan Smith began a rock-hip hop song called “Weapon” which will be on their third mixtape due in December titled “VS.” Having only performed the song once before at Coachella, Bastille introduced a fiery rapper named Angel Haze, who collaborated with the band on the track. But the surprises didn’t stop there-soon, Smith reintroduced Ella Eyre and together, they sang “No Angels,” a mash up of TLC’s song “No Scrubs” and The XX’s “Angels.”

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

But besides these stellar covers which provided variety and surprise to the set, Bastille’s true performance highlights lie in their lyrics and melodies. Playing “The Silence,” “The Draw” and “Icarus,” the band’s catalog is chock-full of historical references (Bastille is named after a Frech prison, after all) and distorted, experimental sounds. Though these few songs were not the most poignant tracks, the ones that closed the set definitely were.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Clearing the way for what was about to happen, security made sure all walk ways were empty. For Bastille fans, this could only mean one thing: “Flaws.” As the Postal Service-esque song began with a light electric piano melody, Smith put on a wolf hoodie and lept off the stage and into the crowd. Cell phones followed him around the venue as fans tried to capture the elusive Smith singing their new US single, which has been making rounds on KROQ and AltNation. Though it always seems to be a slight logistical nightmare to have a lead singer run through the crowd, the audience members were well pleased about this band-fan interaction.

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

Joyce Jude Lee / Soundsnspirits

After Smith meandered back onto the stage and finished the song, he announced that next tune would require audience participation as he claims to be the “worst f*cking dancer in all of LA.” He beckoned a docile crowd to do the “pogo” for their infectious mashup of old ninties songs titled “Of The Night.” When the lights shone on the audience during the chorus, waves of arms and lights filled in the air as people jumped up and down in chaotic unison to the beat of the song. The track, which ends with an epic drum battle between Dan Smith and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Simmons, was a definite highlight of Thursday night.

But of course, the show cannot end there, people want to hear the song that still continues to be played on the radio every single day in-person. “Pompeii,” the tune that launched the band into mainstream success, was a definite hit. Calling out Grizfolk and Ella Eyre to the stage, Smith and co. finished the set on a high point with their distinguishable “Eh-eh-oh-eh-ohs.”

Next time the quartet returns, they will be back with new album material, but until then, do yourselves a favor and listen to the record. You won’t want to miss them the next time they’re in town.

Originally posted here.

-J

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