The neo-synth pop group Bastille will perform live in concert at The Riviera Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on Monday, March 31st, 2014, with opening act To Kill A King. Bastille was formed in London, England in 2010. Originally the solo project of singer/songwriter Dan Smith, Bastille expanded to a quartet after he decided to form a band and got some of his friends involved. The band attracted a lot of attention after putting a few tracks online, leading to support slots at major U.K. festivals like Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight. While their lush, heavily ’80s-inspired melodies, anthemic choruses, and literate, emotionally raw lyrics, delivered in Smith’s swooping voice, undoubtedly appealed to kids weaned on the sounds of La Roux and Florence + The Machine, at least part of the hype was due to the flagrantly copyright-breaching videos that Smith, an ardent film buff, edited together out of footage from old movies like Terrence Malick’s Badlands. Eventually they secured a deal with hip indie label Young and Lost Club and released their debut 7” single, "Flaws"/"Icarus", in July 2011. This was followed later that year by Laura Palmer EP, named for the teenaged murder victim in David Lynch’s cult ’90s TV series Twin Peaks; the creepy accompanying video for the track “Overjoyed” was also heavily inspired by the series. The group returned in 2013 with their debut album Bad Blood.
2013 was a remarkable year for Bastille. The band’s full-length debut, Bad Blood, went straight to the top of the album charts when it was released in the U.K. in March 2013. The Haunt EP, which introduced Bastille to U.S. audiences, entered Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart at No. 1 in June 2013. “Pompeii” – included on both Haunt and Bad Blood – has become one of the standout tracks of the year. And the “Pompeii” video, directed by Jesse John Jenkins (The Vaccines, Peace), has racked up more than 77 million views.
Dan Smith, the founder of Bastille, envisioned the “Pompeii” clip as the novel I Am Legend if it were shot by the director of Drive, which hints at how inextricably intertwined music, film and literature are in his creative process. His earliest ambition was, quite simply, to be a storyteller; that music would be his métier was a realization he came to years later.
Smith’s precocious love of horror movies as a child led to an appreciation of Dario Argento and esoteric European cinema. Later, Mulholland Drive pulled him into the world of David Lynch, whose work has proved highly influential on Smith. The song “Laura Palmer” uses the story of the mysterious murder victim from “Twin Peaks,” and for a while Dan even wore his hair in an Eraserhead cut as a nod to Lynch. Smith created a three-minute edit of the classic Terrence Malick film Badlands to serve as the video for his first indie single, 2011’s “Flaws”/”Icarus.” Visual elements are so integral to Bastille’s approach that the band launched a special website, Cinema Pompeii (http://www.cinemapompeii.com/), which features a handcrafted selection of videos and performances (see Bastille / / Chicago here).
Although Smith is the driving force behind Bastille, writing and initially recording all of the songs in his bedroom, his music is ultimately collaborative. The rest of the band – bassist Will Farquarson, keyboard player Kyle Simmons and drummer Chris “Woody” Wood – appear on Bad Blood in varying capacities. The four musicians have been playing and touring together for more than two years – and all the midnight practices in dingy rehearsals studios, convened after they had finished work at their respective day jobs, have paid off. Together they exhibit an uncommon unity. While each has his main role in Bastille, they effortlessly trade places on vocals, keyboards and percussion, creating a musical tapestry interlaced with texture and experimentation.
Producer Mark Crew, the band’s “fifth member,” also plays a crucial role in Bastille. Smith and Crew's relationship goes back to the beginning of Bastille and though the music they record together sounds lush and expensive, Bad Blood was actually recorded in a tiny room on limited equipment – apart from a day spent recording strings in the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
“We basically made the album in a studio the size of a cupboard, so it was one extreme to the other,” recalls Smith. “Producing the record, I wanted to offset epic sounding instrumentation with lyrics that combine intimate stories or conversation. The contrast was something that appealed to me.” [from Bastille biography]
Monday, March 31st, 2014
JAM Productions presents
To Kill A King
The Riviera Theatre
4746 North Racine Avenue
Chicago, IL 60640
This event is Sold Out.