Rime of the Ancient Hipster, or Bastille in Snapchats

If there is anything you should know about me, it’s that I am a demon for Snapchat. I’ve snapped it all: Stern burritos, a stranger’s bar mitzvah, that time I saw Tina Fey in New York. When I hop aboard the soul train away from this world, my tombstone will probably read: “Here lies Bojan. #tbt.” My Snapchat story has featured some gems, no doubt, but I don’t think I’ve ever pushed its limits quite as hard as the night I saw Bastille at the Warfield.

From their best jabs at triumphant melancholy to Dan Smith’s gravity-defying up-do, Bastille are anything anyone in the Tumblr-trotting, Coachella-going, John Green-loving world is talking about –we get that. They do their own mix of indie-rock-meets-synthpop, and they do it well. And those of us who care about lyrics aren’t disappointed either.
So, if you missed the concert because of rush, or because you don’t listen to bands with more than seventeen hits on YouTube, my Snapchat and I have compiled a list of highlights.

“Icarus” is one of many Bastille songs inspired by the ancient world. It is a song about a wax-winged youth so obsessed with his own self-sufficiency that he flew too close to the sun, and it melted his wings. True to his present rockstar status, Dan was not vocally perfect for this one – but hey, who cares? He can still carry a tune. The merch-clad youths in the audience were screaming, as was I.

This one’s on the sensitive side, and maybe that’s why Dan seemed more in control of it. “Oblivion” soliloquizes the moment of dying, of surrendering oneself to the ephemerality of existence. It was also the moment when my phone started vibrating with texts of the “omg jelly” variety.

“Of the Night” is a mashup of “Rhythm of the Night,” a zany ‘90s song by the Italian band Corona, and “Rhythm is a Dancer,” a sassy Eurodance tune by the German band Snap!. In a take-the-tragic-and-turn-it-into-magic move, Bastille shook this cuteness to the core, infusing the zaniness and sass with clinical insanity, bringing a sound that’s more comfortably haunted. Perhaps it is a testament to the times that Bastille’s cover makes me feel more at home than the original.

This is when Dan put a sock in my cynicism. If you observe closely, he is entering the audience while singing. As “Flaws” reached its climax, I noticed Dan was no longer in the pit. I turned around, and saw him entering the lower loge, where I was seated. I then proceeded to jump out of my seat, pushing soccer mom chaperones and hipster forty-somethings alike to make my way to his side.

At this point, it should be clear that I am somewhat out of my mind and think Dan is my older brother. I have spent many nights in front of the mirror, working with three different hair products to combat my receding hairline and attain that effortless swoosh –a venture that is as unsuccessful as it is disturbing. Suffice it to say, a hug from Dan made it all better. Have I washed my left cheek since? Maybe. Maybe not.

Rest assured; this quartet doesn’t need to resort to hugs to get their audience to like them, and their last pre-Coachella concert proved this. The concert is an aural experience paralleled only by the likes of Postal Service and Coldplay –with computerized backbeats in some songs and powerful vocals in others, and sometimes both in the same song. I’ll admit, the choruses felt more ready-made, even more cliché, when I heard them live than they ever did when I fell asleep to the album. But that’s a flaw I can live with.

Bastille sing music that is acutely aware of its own intelligence. “Weight of Living Pt. I” is a song about “an albatross around your neck” – an explicit nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. And much like poets of the Romantic era, they are not victims to the maddening anxiety of the quotidian, or of the overpowering ruthlessness of industry. Instead, what we see here is a musical psyche captured in the moment before the fall from innocence. We see a staunch commitment to a more naïve state of the human and all the behaviors that protrude from it. Bad Blood is not just an album; it is an impassioned elegy to the lives that may have been lived if humans weren’t meant to grow up. Bastille have certainly narrated my fall from innocence every step of the way – and never once got mad when I stopped to take a selfie.

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