Bastille

support To Kill A King
author HES date 14/11/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

We’ve all heard their single “Pompeii” by now and I must admit I think I am borderlining the edge between pop and rock by wanting to review this band. Their singles have been played non-stop on the Danish radio channels and as I arrive at Vega, it’s pretty obvious that some of that fame-factor has attracted a lot of people that don’t usually go to shows and a lot of people going to a show for their first time.

To Kill A King

I briefly listened to the scraps I could find on Spotify by tonight’s warm up act “To Kill a King” and I quickly started looking forward to this just as much as the main act tonight. To Kill A King plays quiet, Seattle-ish rock with twists of both folk and pop-punk. Their sound is laid back, warm and embracing. The lead vocalist/guitarist with the charming name of Ralph Pelleymounter has a jazzy, warm voice with a bit of glottal pressure not unlike Isaac Slade of The Fray. The mood is melancholic and dark like The National, but lifted a bit by returning light guitar riffs in the style of Vampire Weekend. Unfortunately, be it because of the low average age of the crowd or just general lack of proper upbringing, there are at times so much chatter in the venue, that Pelleymounter’s beautiful voice is drowned out. In fact all of the band is drowned out from time to time. I could go on about bad concert-culture, but I'll leave it at "all of the symptoms" were present in this crowd, such as smartphones and chatter.

Besides his characteristic voice described above, he also has a wonderful vocal range. The song "Howling" is a beautiful, gloomy ballad with Pelleymounter's voice abstractly imitating a wolfs howl at the moon. But getting the crowd tonight to understand the beautiful simplicity of songs like "Howling", "Cold Skin" and "Choices" is probably too big of a challenge to be solved by just one show. However, the more upbeat songs like "Funeral" (in spite of the title, yes) strikes more of a chord. With singalongs and good spirit the boys eventually gets the party started. Just for making that happen, they get a gold star from me. I hope people will shut up when the band comes back to play a headline gig at Beta in January.

7

Bastille

The band hits the stage under the cover of complete darkness to the sound of something that sounds like the underlying music from the love scene in Top Gun. The darkness will become a reoccurring element throughout the gig as every break between songs means complete darkness once again. You'd expect it to make the show feel choppy, but it actually heightens the anticipation you always have for what the next song might be, with the first song aired being the single "Bad Blood".

Dan Smith started out as a solo artist, but later decided to form a band. It's still a bit apparent in the ways of the band where Smith mainly carries the contact with the audience. His energy level is high, dancing around the stage quite a bit without it generally affecting his vocals. That is something quite impressive in itself, but his voice control is impressive on top of it. For me at least the show starts out on the wrong foot by emphasising the more electronic parts of the music on songs like "Things We Lost In The Fire" that sounds clumsily heavy and the otherwise beautiful "Overjoyed" which is completely killed by a high pitched snare-drum of some sorts. My hopes of this show proving my initial prejudices mentioned in the intro of this article wrong slowly drown in a sea of strobing lights, screaming teens and techno-beats. Only my professional pride keeps me from heading to the bar for a pint.

Luckily the rest of the show is a completely different story - so much that it makes me feel a bit schizophrenic. It’s not really normal for shows to pick up from something like the unclassy start of this one. The band does a cover of 2001-song "What Would You Do" by the rap group City High - a one-hit-wonder about the social implications of poverty and the sincerity of the cover really is a homerun, even though most of the fans probably don’t even remember the original of this song.

This is followed up by the hauntingly beautiful “Daniel In The Den” supported by an amazing abstract light projection on the ceiling of Store Vega. The mood picks up with the more upbeat “Weight Of Living, Pt II”. The absolute peak of the show are two dashes of new songs, scattered through-out the latter part of the set. Both are increasingly darker and more instrument-driven, rather than only driven by Smith’s voice. New song “Blame” is gloomy, march-like while “The Draw” is drum-driven and ends up in a crescendo of drums, as Smith hammers along with drummer Chris “Woody” Wood on his high hat. Amongst other highlights are the calypso'ish "These Streets" and "Flaws" which Smith actually jumps into the audience to sing as he wanders around in the crowd of screaming girls only kept safe/moving by a single bodyguard/mic-chord-holder. The encore also includes an Imogen Heap-like rendition of “Get Home”, recent hit-cover “Of The Night” and lastly mega-hit “Pompeii”.

7

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