Show Review: Bastille Dances Into Doom Days

You know that super famous “Ferris Bueller” quote that has been embroidered onto pillows and referenced endlessly in movie trivia? You know the one.

“Life moves pretty fast: if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Yes, that one. It’s pretty cliché to say now, but as a young teenager, Ferris Bueller was probably my favorite movie when I was starting my “teen angst” phase of my life where I thought I was cool and edgy for listening to pop punk music, reading “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” and identifying with more than one of the main characters in “The Breakfast Club.” Despite this quote being cheesy, being overused and over referenced, the sentiment is accurate.

As I’ve taken the time to look up from my phone to see what’s going on in the world, it seems like the end of the world is upon us. It’s hard to be a cynical when we are killing the planet and have a country infected with political corruptness. Just today, I saw a pair of police officers on the street armed with assault rifles. It only feels like yesterday that I was starting my freshman year of college with far less of a jaded sense of the world than I do now, and far more hopeful that the future was going to be really great for not just me, but a lot of people. So, a more negative take on this infamous quote, but a take, nonetheless.

Before I get far too moody, I’ll explain the point I’m getting to. How do we as a human race learn how to care about the demise of the planet but still maintain a general sense of happiness and emotional well-being without constantly worrying and living in fear? Maintaining a balance seems to be getting increasing more difficult to achieve as we see the destruction of most things around us. While I do think as people, we have a moral responsibility to care for the people, places and things that inhabit the earth, it’s also increasingly more difficult to feel like we can make a difference and still wake up happy, motivated and excited about the things going on in our personal lives.

I think Bastille feels the same way, and their newest release, Doom Days, encapsulates that feeling perfectly. Released earlier this year, Doom Days has been described as a concept album about an evening spent at a party that continues well into the morning. The party is described as having an “atmosphere of “turbulent emotional chaos” and “euphoria, carelessness and a small dose of madness” and each track is set at a specific time of the night.

Though their most commercially successful track, “Happier,” was released in 2018 with the DJ Marshmello (currently sitting at 967 million streams on Spotify), Bastille has been releasing music since 2012. Forming in 2010, Bastille initially started as a solo project by the lead singer, Dan Smith, who named the project for Bastille Day, also his birthday. Smith joined forces with Kyle Simmons (keyboard), Will Farquarson (bass and guitar), and Chris Wood (drums) to create a band under the same name.

Their debut single and EP was released independently before the band signed to Virgin Records, leading to their first album, Bad Blood, being released in March 2013. This is where the birth of the band’s second most successful track to date, “Pompeii,” made waves in the UK and later in the United States. I specifically heard the track after a friend had recommended their music to me and I instantly became hooked.

Fast forward through the next through years of Bastille’s career, as they continued to build on the success of their debut album after touring and playing festivals around the country. Their second album, Wide World, was released in 2016. Though their music continued to stay consistent to the sound of their initial releases, the band continued to find more commercial success after “Pompeii” became a radio hit.

Over the years, Bastille has performed at a variety of venues in Chicago—ranging from Lincoln Hall (the first time I saw them was in 2013. I was 18), The Riviera Theater, Aragon Ballroom, and quite a few others. Their most recent show was at The Chicago Theater, arguably one of the city’s most famous and certainly most beautiful. Bastille has always had a larger-than-life feel to their music and live performance, and it the achievement of performing at a venue of this caliber seemed like something the band was naturally progressing to get towards, and most definitely well deserved.

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I was excited to see the band’s live performance in a space where it feels like their sound can fit at home, which can be tricky to execute in venues that may have poor sound or a small stage. The clock struck 9pm and red lights flooded the stage as the set was beginning. What I hadn’t seen Bastille do in the past was incorporate pieces into their set, and this one specifically featured a ton of props, including a couch, vintage looking television on a rolling stand, and a small, circular platform in towards the back center of the stage that would later spin. The sense of chaos that is represented in Dooms Day was immediately visible and understood to the audience, as “Quarter Past Midnight” opened the set and set the tone for the rest of the performance.

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The set was separated by four different acts:

  • Act 1: “Still Avoiding Tomorrow”
  • Act 2: “Those Nights”
  • Act 3: “The Morning Doesn’t Reach Us”

I’ve always been captivated by Dan’s live performance and it seemed to be right at home during this set, per usual. It seems as though he’s never had issues with interacting with the audience,  weaving through the variety of props strewn about onstage and hyping up the crowd. The next couple tracks were from previous album releases and received loud reactions from the fans: “Send Them Off!” and “Things We Lost In The Fire” kept the high energy and momentum going. It was specifically hard to watch the video footage playing on the screen onstage behind the band, as it was showing a handful of disturbing images, including natural disasters, images of war and other things that make the sentiment of the song take on a whole new meaning.

“Happier” unsurprisingly created a very large and powerful singalong between the band and the audience members while simultaneously becoming a large dance/jump party: whatever you’d like to call Dan’s…very specific dance moves. Fan favorite tracks like “Flaws” resulted in Dan doing his best to take a lap between the rows of seats on the main floor to interact with fans, giving high fives and hugs, and making his way back to the stage without getting a limb ripped off of his body (he’s been doing this for this song specifically for years). My personal favorite moments of the set were during “Doom Days,” “Blame” and “Good Grief.”

As the acts continued to come to an end, the night’s events continued into the wee hours of the morning, representing that something was coming to an end. Whether things may be coming to a head or the night’s chaos is diminishing  into something calm and concluding is up to the person watching the show.

Like I hinted at earlier, it’s tough to be kind to yourself amidst an endless news cycle of horrible disasters featuring even more horrible people. As we continue to navigate the harsh waters of reality, maybe all we can do is control what is in front of us and react to what we can’t control. The countdown is coming to an end, and we have the choice to figure out how and where it ends. And maybe we’ll just have a dance party when the world finally comes crashing down.

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Click here to check out Bastille’s tour dates.

Thanks for reading.

  • Kristin

 

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