The Music Beat

The Music Beat: Bastille Dances Its Way Through the Apocalypse

British indie pop group Bastille has been a staple of my playlists since 2013. My sophomore year of high school I listened to only Bastille from January until March — my Spotify Year in Review was just a tad biased. I dug up every unreleased track, mixtape and live performance to supplement the one studio album the band had released.

Since then Bastille released two more albums and two mixtapes, and each has taken its turn on repeat.

When I saw that my favorite British self-proclaimed nerds were coming to The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.) Oct. 2, I knew it was time for all my obscure Bastille knowledge to resurface.

But first to the stage was indie rock band Joywave. I expected the band’s weird mesh of rock and electronic but I had no idea how hilarious the members were. I love when artists are as sarcastic as I am. Lead singer Daniel Armbruster quickly noted the seated venue was not conducive to audience engagement — everyone was plopped in their chairs.

“It’s great for you, but terrible for me,” Armbruster said from the stage in a John Mulaney-like tone.

He tricked the crowd into standing for a “special guest,” and begged them to stay standing when no one appeared. Many did and swayed to Joywave’s eclectic tunes.

The jokes may not have landed with everyone, but I could be caught cracking up from my seat and while photographing the sets.

Shooting this show was odd, I’m not going to lie. There wasn’t a photo pit in front of the stage so us photographers had to stay to the sides of the stage for the first three songs of both sets. 

For Bastille’s fifth song, “Two Evils” off the album “Wild World,” we got to migrate. The band’s tour manager told us to go up the center aisle to get a proper shot of lead singer Dan Smith perched on a freestanding staircase with a full moon centered behind him. It was quite dramatic, which meant I was all for it. The stripped track also gave Smith a chance to showcase his vocal range and power.

Bastille is no stranger to the overly dramatic and emotional. The members frequently pointed out how sad their songs are, but said the fans all chose to come to the show. They probably knew what they were getting into.

The album’s title track “Doom Days” received the familiar intro. It — like the album as a whole — centers around avoiding the apocalypse and distracting yourself by any means necessary. It may have a bleak outlook, but man does that song go hard.

“Doom Days” spent the longest on repeat in my headphones from the new album — it has the same energy as “Sober II (Melodrama)” by Lorde, my favorite song of hers. The dark bass that drops in part way through the song, the layered vocals, it’s just so good. So, needless to say, I danced with reckless abandon during that song. Well, as reckless as I could get in the red velvet seats.

The seats may not have been ideal for jumping around, but they made Smith’s traditional trip into the crowd straightforward. He hopped off the stage and ran through the aisles for the lighthearted track “Flaws” off the 2013 album “Bad Blood.”

“Flaws” happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time — according to Spotify it’s my most listened to track ever — so the fact that it always appears on the setlist makes for a happy Mary Grace.

The band closed out the show with its radio hit “Pompeii” filling the theater with “eh eh oh”s and drum fills. The radio single usually isn’t the band’s best song, but “Pompeii” will never fail to make me sentimental. 

We all sang out the chorus, “But if you close your eyes does it almost seem like nothing changed at all?” From sophomore year of high school to senior year of college, a few things have changed but my love for Bastille isn’t one of them.

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