Photos by Jon Ching
Four times since July 2013, England electronic pop quartet Bastille has passed through the Bay Area. And in that time, the band’s local fan base has grown exponentially. From a room of about 200 at Popscene, to the Great American Music Hall, to Live 105’s Not So Silent Night in December, and finally to Thursday night’s absolutely packed Warfield. That’s 2,300 screaming fans, many of them teens and tweens.
Bastille is no longer simply an indie pop band. It’s an indie pop band whose lead single (“Pompeii”) is played in grocery stores and gyms and has spent weeks on the American pop music charts. It’s becoming difficult to escape the song, which not many artists whose music does not include a guitar or two can claim.
And as those who’ve seen Bastille more than once know, Dan Smith and co.’s show hasn’t changed much since that Popscene show. There are some tweaks, to be sure — the introduction of a few newer songs being the best among them — but the fan-favorite moments remain the same: Smith’s energetic hopping around the stage, thumping away on a tom drum at the front of the stage, and showcasing range from lower octaves to falsetto on songs such as set opener “Bad Blood” and up-tempo “Icarus.”
It wasn’t the band’s best Bay Area showing, but the newer songs, such as “Blame,” a gothic-pop tune with bassy vocals, and Smith’s newfound willingness to include guitar on some live performances, suggest the quartet — which includes Chris Wood, Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson — still has room to grow and hasn’t settled for their place in the pop spectrum.
The best moment of the night came not on the ever-present “Pompeii,” which Smith saved for last, but main set closer “Flaws.” During the tune, Smith has been known to climb into the audience — no matter how packed — with the protection of nothing other than his trusty hoodie. This time around, he was swarmed so intensely that he had issues delivering some of his lines, which led him to make his way to the second balcony, to much delight.