The 9:30 Club’s doors had been open for nearly two hours before Bastille took the stage. Rushing to the front to take pictures had never been this much of a problem before, especially late on a Sunday night — that’s what is special about Bastille’s fans. Growing up in the Tumblr era, many of these fans’ online presences are dedicated to the London-based electropop band, and no one, not even me with my camera gear pleading, “I’m press! Just let me up there, it’s only for three songs!” is going to get in the way of seeing the band perform.
As a haze filled the room, the opening sample from the band’s sophomore album, Wild World, played over the PA system asking the crowd, “So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?” Singer Dan Smith took center stage — crowded by the band’s extensive setup, including four keyboards, MIDI-drum pads and guitars — and performed the song “Good Grief.”
The band’s name was emblazoned on a large backdrop and along with two wire sculptures, mimicking the two youths sitting on a ledge overlooking New York City on Wild World‘s cover. Strobe lights flickered, ghosting the image of Smith’s face onto his silhouette. At one point during “The Currents,” Smith sat between the two sculptures, singing to them as much as the crowd.
Playing all but three songs off of Wild World, the 9:30 Club performance was the first time the band had an opportunity to give the album a proper live debut in the United States. The fans had no idea what they were getting into when the set started, but as it progressed the band’s impact was apparent.
During the third song of the set, “Warmth,” I looked to my right to see a boy who couldn’t have been more than 7 years old with who I think was his father. As the opening notes of the song tore through the air, the little boy began jumping up and down screaming with excitement as his father watched on, joy on both of their faces.
The songs that Smith crafts are deeply personal, and he described them as “depressing songs hidden by happy melodies.” It is no surprise then that the audience reacted the way it did as Bastille played hit after hit. At one point, Smith disappeared from the stage, only to reappear on the upper balcony of the 9:30 Club. Singing the whole time, he worked his way through to the opposite balcony before coming downstairs and finishing the song on top of the bar.
Closing the first act — as Smith described it — with “The Anchor” tied the performance and Wild World together. Darkness followed, and after starting with new tracks, the band ended with old ones; it came back with a four-song encore playing “Flaws,” “Things We Lost in the Fire,” “Bad Blood” and “Pompeii.” The return to Bastille’s breakout songs was welcome at the end of the night, and the final burst of energy reverberated throughout the venue.