Bastille Keeps It Sweet and Smart

The Joint in Hard Rock Hotel, Dec. 15

Photo by Wayne Posner | Kabik Photo Group

Bastille | Photo by Wayne Posner/Kabik Photo Group

Some things from across the pond—such as idioms, food and values—just don’t translate well. Bastille’s unique brand of pop is so damn catchy, it’s basically universal. As the brainchild of English singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Daniel Smith, Bastille’s catchy, tasteful indie-pop is simple and sweet on the surface, but in actuality, it’s a smart, dense array of shimmering keys and boomin’ bass below dynamic vocals that’s earned the respect of music critics, while still being ripe enough for the radio.

The burning question: How does Bastille take its hits from the airwaves to x1075’s Holiday Havoc concert? As a quartet playing as many instruments as a marching band making its rounds in a city parade, Bastille performed its smartly-crafted songs with gusto. “We have this tradition of making the second-to-last shows of tours the messiest,” Smith said. It was actually quite the opposite.

Smith took the music from stage to floor and sang with fans within the first minute of opener “Flaws,” and he switched between hitting fake drums and keyboards during the rhythmic climax of “Things Lost in the Fire.” Keyboard player Kyle Simmons nailed the challenging, cascading arpeggios in “Laura Palmer” while Smith sang the galloping vocal melodies and hopped like a resident DJ. The performance was half style, half substance. They performed in front of a plastic geometric backdrop with an over-the-top assortment of strobe lights and smoke, as if your favorite new wave band got a budget. The band ultimately redeemed itself in its slow-burning covers of Snap!’s “Rhythm is A Dancer,” and a mash-up of The xx’s “Angels” and TLC’s “No Scrubs,” which proved the band’s ability to make seemingly one-dimensional pop bangers into deeper compositions. ★★★✩✩

Photos by Wayne Posner / Kabik Photo Group


Things We Lost in the Fire
Blame (new song)
Laura Palmer
Rhythm is A Dancer (Snap! cover)
Snakes (new song)
These Streets
The Draw
No Angels (The xx/TLC mashup)