Bastille launches DC into ‘Future’ with Anthem concert

The English group’s fourth studio album was released Feb 4th of this year

English techno-pop-rock band Bastille took the stage at The Anthem in DC’s Wharf district tonight (Sun, June 5th). They are currently touring in support of their new album, Give Me The Future. It is just Bastille’s fourth full-length original offering in their 12-year career.

The show itself is styled after the futuristic theming of the album. In between each number, the rectangular screen behind them displayed a buffer triangle (Bastille’s logo) with the tongue-in-cheek phrase “Loading Next Experience” underneath. And that’s exactly what each song is: An experience all its own.

The hitmakers behind 2013 earworm “Pompeii” are incredibly versatile. They can pull off a funky song like “Survivin’” one minute, and be gut wrenchingly, purely emotional on “Oblivion” the next. “Shut off the Lights” is a Reggae-infused number that seemingly forces everyone to jump up and down.

Bastille members Kyle Simmons, Will Farquarson, and Chris Wood each play a multitude of instruments and are integral to the percussion-driven sound of Bastille. But it is the vocals of lead singer Dan Smith that make the music transcendent. His vocals soar over each stylistic choice. Anyone can press play on a loop, overdub a keyboard here and a guitar riff there. But without the intention and heart inside those beats, it rings hollow.

Bastille certainly has that heart, and is driven by an intention to connect with their fanbase through these beats. When introducing “Survivin’”, Smith said, “As with most Bastille songs, it kind of sounds happy. But actually it’s incredibly, incredibly depressing.” This dichotomy has served them well here in the US and their native England.

What is incredible is how Bastille’s trademark blend of technology and tradition translates live. Using their loops and samples like seasoning in a dish, the live instruments take center stage. While the backings accent and make the music record-perfect for the enthusiastic crowd.

Quite ironic then, that their new “futuristic” (as Smith described it) album is about how technology can ruin our lives. “Plug in…” is an anthem for those of us desperate to unplug. And “Give Me the Future” describes in vivid detail the dreams our digital world seems to promise are just beyond the horizon.

Throughout the night, at The Anthem, lead singer Smith switched effortlessly between upbeat poppy infectiousness and soulful lamenting. All while marveling at the crowd’s turn out, “Thank you so fucking much!” He’d cry out several times. The multi-layered stage acted as a virtual jungle gym for Smith to jump on, leap off, and stand stoic. Or, if he preferred, lay flat on the lounger in the middle of the stage. Opting for a wash of blues and purples with almost no follow spot, the band gave The Anthem a club vibe that created the perfect atmosphere for the concert.

Singer Bim Amaoko is a frequent collaborator with Bastille, and joins them on this tour. While her vocals were featured throughout the night, she shined her brightest on “Future Holds,” towards the end of the main set.

Bastille has found a niche within pop music that works for them because it is inarguably authentic. And as much as this album may be about a dystopian future for our society, the future for Bastille continues to be quite bright.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.