Concert Review: Bastille Keep the Crowd Dancing in Chicago

British indie band Bastille kicked off the U.S./Canada leg of their “All This Bad Blood” tour March 31st to a sold out crowd at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre. While the group’s meteoric rise seemingly came overnight with the infectious song “Pompeii” dominating radio airwaves in the U.S., the band have been touring non-stop since around 2011, and it’s finally paying off.

Bastille Take Chicago’s Riviera Theatre


The show opened with longtime pals of the group, To Kill a King, a sort of folk band with a vastly different musical style than their headliner. However, the group was undeniably talented, yet still unable to hold the audiences attention, as it usually goes with opening acts. To Kill a King’s set flew by rather quickly and I had hoped that they would be given more time to perform songs off their album Cannibals with Cutlery, only because this last push from touring alongside Bastille almost guarantees that they will soon be a top emerging artist.

When the time came for Bastille to take the stage, the lights dimmed and an audio clip from The Breakfast Club played over the theme music of Twin Peaks. The classic monologue of, “when you grow up, your heart dies,” rang through the venue as part of the stage production began to awaken with red and blue flashing lights. Through the dark, you could slightly see singer Dan Smith, hoodie up, with a branded wolf on it’s back, counting off before they launched right into “Bad Blood” (their albums namesake). The audience did not miss a beat, shouting back all the lyrics and jumping alongside the group.

From that point on, Bastille mixed their set with songs that were heavily adored off their debut, such as “Laura Palmer” and “The Things We Lost in The Fire,” as well as old favorites for long-time fans like “Poet.” They even intermixed new singles off the re-released version of their debut, which included “Blame” and “The Draw.” To the audience’s credit, all the lyrics were memorized and each song was met with a wave of excitement and approval.

Performance wise, Dan Smith’s vocals were always on point, bringing out the best in every song no matter the tempo, or how much he jumped or hammered away at his individual drums. The stage presence was stronger than it had been in the past, despite his self-proclaimed “terrible dancing.” Smith gave it 100% and thrashed on stage alongside the beat, displaying a new found confidence compared to when Bastille was first starting out. As for the other members, they rarely ventured away from their sequestered areas, except for a few times to jam in the front before going back to their stations.

The highlight of the evening came at the end of their main set with the song “Flaws,” where Dan Smith put on his hoodie, covered his now semi-famous hair and smashed his way through the audience before climbing a set of balconies, running through the audience in the mezzanine, climbing through another set of balconies, then making his way back to the stage.

When they returned for their encore, it was a pleasant surprise to hear “Daniel in the Den,” a slower song of theirs that consists of piano and percussion. From there, they moved into another fan favorite, “Of the Night,” a cover mash-up of “The Rhythm of the Night” by Corona and “Rhythm is a Dancer” by Snap! Smith once again proclaimed that he was a terrible dancer, but told the audience that on his mark they should get down on the ground and jump up when he gave another cue. The audience obliged making it one of the most lively and enjoyable parts of the night, where many put down their phones to take one last moment to dance.

Bastille invited To Kill a King on stage to help them close out the evening with none other than “Pompeii.” It was a beautiful performance that reminded everyone of why it has become such a great hit in the first place.

Set List:

  1. Bad Blood

  2. Weight of Living, Pt. II

  3. Blame

  4. Laura Palmer

  5. Poet

  6. Overjoyed

  7. Laughter Lines

  8. These Streets

  9. The Silence

  10. Oblivion

  11. Icarus

  12. The Draw

  13. Things We Lost in the Fire

  14. Flaws


  1. Daniel in the Den

  2. Of the Night

  3. Pompeii

Article by Raefa Alsalah

Add a Comment