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September 22, 2012 - 3:31pm

No signs of wear from Bloc Party's four-year hiatus



Writers’ Note: this article was originally written in Comic Sans MS and is intended to be read as such.

Fresh off of a four-year hiatus and the release of their fourth studio album (aptly titled Four), London dance-punk quartet Bloc Party are making their triumphant return across the pond during their brief US tour. Daily Arts Bloggers Harrison Lott and Kendall Russ were at Royal Oak Music Theatre Wednesday night to watch it all go down. Here is their recap of that sweet, sweaty night.

Kendall: What did you think, Harrison?

Harrison: So how’d you find the show Kendall?

Kendall: . . .

Harrison: Well first of all, I’d like to thank my mom and dad for this opportunity ...

Kendall: You realize we’re talking about a concert … not the AVA’s (Adult Video Awards).

Harrison: Oh yeah, I’m sorry I just got the two confused because it was SUCH A MONUMENTAL MOMENT IN MY LIFE.

Kendall: RIGHT? I’ve wanted to see Bloc Party live since Silent Alarm came out in 2005 and was worried they wouldn’t tour again after their hiatus. When I heard they were coming to Royal Oak, I spent my last $30 and ate one meal a day for the next two weeks. My hunger strike was totally worth it — they were incredible.

Harrison: Well, when I was spending my time not practicing to be the next Olsen twin, I was focusing on how intently amazing Bloc Party would be if the Lord ever blessed me with a live performance. Like you, I never thought the day would come. I felt that there was a better chance of the Chicago CubBears winning the BigSportsSuperCup than me ever being mere feet away from Kele Okereke and crew. But now that that moment has come and gone, I can say without a doubt that I am a changed man. For the entire two hours they were performing, I felt like I transcended my human form and reached some sort of divine experience. Or it was just really fucking awesome.

Kendall: Whatever!!!!!!!!!! Being skinny is suuuper in this season. But yeah. Bloc Party. Divine. Exactly. I thought their latest album (Four) was awesome, and I was really glad they kicked the show off with “Octopus.” It set the bar high. And I’ll admit, I was really impressed with how crisp and on point they sounded. Russell and Kele’s machine-gun guitar exchange has always been one of the band’s strengths, and they executed it flawlessly throughout. Gordie killed it on “Positive Tension” and did the most important thing a bassist can do live: Be the coolest motherfucker on stage. I was also really impressed with Matt’s decision to pull a Tobias Fünke and go never-nude on the drums.

Harrison: You say that like it’s not something I do on a regular basis … Anyway, coming into the show I was slightly worried about how they would sound, too. I mean, after a four-year hiatus, issues are definitely prone. But by the time they finished “Hunting for Witches” (their third song of the night), all my worries were set aside. And speaking of songs from Weekend in the City, I was really impressed by how well the set list was put together. After a new album, one might think that they would put a heavy emphasis on new material, but instead Bloc Party assembled a cluster of songs that spanned their entire discography.

Kendall: For a concert presumably designed to promote Four’s release, I was definitely impressed with how balanced the set list was. They played the obvious favorites (“Helicopter”, “Banquet”, “Mercury”) but also tossed out some lesser known gems like the dance-inducing “One More Chance” and Intimacy bonus track “Letter To My Son.” They definitely respected the audience with their choices, appeasing fair-weather fans and diehard loyalists alike. I thought they successfully tinkered with their older material without compromising their sound — the transition from “Song For Clay” to “Banquet” was electrifying, and their groovy rendition of “Signs” was a welcome surprise. I was bummed that they didn’t play “Like Eating Glass,” but I wouldn’t have changed much else about what they played.

Harrison: Yeah, I would’ve loved to hear “Like Eating Glass,” as it’s in my top three favorite Bloc Party songs, as well as my top 1 favorite songs to drunkenly play at parties. It picks up the ladies, man. I was surprised that they didn’t play “V.A.L.I.S,” however, as I think it is one of the best songs from Four. But after some time spent digging around on the internet, it appears that they haven’t played it at all on this tour. So I guess I can’t feel that left out.

Kendall: Sure you can. So yeah, the set was great, they sounded great. I thought the lights were pretty cool, too. I almost had a seizure during “Octopus” though — those strobe lights were killer. Otherwise, I thought they delivered a really composed performance, both visually and musically.

Harrison: OK, we get it, they were good. Really good. But what parts had you ready to burst out of your pants? We’re talking specifics!

Kendall: The way they began “Flux” with Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” I went absolutely mental. I’m a sucker for both covers and Rihanna. I was dripping (........with sweat). Quick toss up: Rihanna or Beyoncé?

Harrison: Ohhhhh that depends … in a boat racing contest or a ohmygodwhichonedoigetfunkywith way?

Kendall: Boat racing.

Harrison: Beyoncé.

Kendall: I want to cop out and say both, but I’m going to stick to my Houston roots and go with Bey. Alright, what was your standout moment?

Harrison: Well let’s see. As far as things that I will tell my nonexistent grandchildren about, I would say that leaping over the barricade to catch the drumstick Matt threw into the audience would take the cake. But as far as legitimate moments of the performance go, I think that there were three big takeaways for me. I really enjoyed the way they transformed “Signs” into a song that fit within a live context. Instead of being a soft, depressing, glockenspiel-driven lullaby, it became a ballad of sorts, with the guitar becoming the centerpiece. Additionally, the transition between “Song For Clay” and “Banquet” was amazing and sent the audience into a fury. Instead of stopping to let us catch our collective breath, Bloc Party combined the end of “Song For Clay” and the beginning of “Banquet” to make one super-song. But the most memorable moment for me came during “Positive Tension”. The entire song is a build-up of sorts, and Bloc Party didn’t let me down. Once Kele began the string of “Why’d you have to get so hysterical,” everyone in Royal Oak knew what was about to happen. Finally, the music dropped out and the Music Theatre was completely silent for a split second before the crowd unleashed a chorus of “So fucking useless!”. While rather minor compared to the concert as a whole, it definitely was a moment that made me reflect on what was happening and think to myself “Holy shit. This is one of the most fun times I’ve had in my life.” You know, real deep stuff like that.

Kendall: Not to be too bromantic, but I’d have to agree. Even if we waited two hours in the cold to grab an autograph to no avail, I’d definitely say it’s one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I hope it’s not the last chance I’ll have to see them, and I hope they put another few albums out in the coming years. I’d be devastated if they split for good. I don’t think I could go back to those dark places I visited the last four Bloc Party-less years.

Harrison: Nor could I. I would rather sit through a ten-hour extended version of “Wild Hogs” than live in a world without Bloc Party. But if it is in fact the last chance* I had to see them, it was without a doubt a night I’ll never forget.

*I’d like to point out that as “One More Chance” was ending, Kendall shouted “You can have as many chances as you want (to love me)” in Kele’s general direction. I thought you should know.

Kendall: I meant it, man. Hey let’s watch “Wild Hogs” this weekend and cry about the possibility that Bloc Party might never make another album.

Harrison:Sounds good. I’ll bring the tissues. Look forward to that review coming next week!

Kendall: Do you think they’ll let us write that one in Comic Sans too?

Harrison: I think it might be better if it were vlogged in Comic Sans.

Kendall: That’s so alternative. Let’s do it.