Bastille Bring Their Massive Wild, Wild World Tour to "Shrek's Paradise" (AKA Aragon Ballroom)
Word and Photos by Rachel Zyzda
At most gigs, the show actually begins when the first note of the opening song rings out into the venue….but not at Bastille’s Wild, Wild World Tour. On Monday, April 3rd, the show started from the moment fans entered the majestic Aragon Ballroom with a full scale, interactive production that kicked off while fans patiently awaited support act Mondo Cozmo, and kept rolling even in between acts. In addition to audiovisual bits of lead singer Dan Smith’s project with Ralph Pelleymounter (of To Kill a King) called Annie Oakley Hanging, the show included short film clips featuring the news anchor from the band’s “Fake It” music video (rumor has it he’s called Billy) and the band decked out in WWCOMMS jumpsuits, performing various activities.
Directly following a clip of “Billy” eating a banana, the five members of Bastille burst onto the stage around 8:45PM with their brassy and bass-boosting single “Send Them Off!,” Smith donning his uniform black t-shirt with the logo for WWCOMMS; a mysterious, omniscient entity constructed alongside the campaign for Bastille’s sophomore album Wild World. The 90 minute set that followed contained a fair mix of new songs from that album, as well as the songs we all know and love from Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood. The third song of the set, “Warmth,” contains the new album's name in its chorus. After the band delivered a powerful and polished performance of the album’s namesake track, Smith took some time to talk about the theme of Wild World and how it comments on the crazy events of the world, introducing “Snakes” as a song about him getting drunk with his mates to take his mind off of the negative events.
Next up, the band sticks to traditions with one of their most popular tracks, “Flaws,” in which Smith always goes into the crowd to dance and sing with audience members. Of course, in addition to this maneuver during “Flaws,” a Bastille gig is never complete without Smith’s endearingly awkward dance moves and his mention of their “horribly depressing songs.” During this set, “Oblivion” and “Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith)” stood out as highlights, despite their very depressing nature. During “Oblivion” the entire Aragon Ballroom lit up with cell phone lights, the audience swaying their lights along with the slow-tempo tearjerker. During “Four Walls,” bassist-turned-guitarist Will Farquarson delivered an incredible minute-long guitar solo. The guitar solo put a fresh spin and new arrangement on the studio version of the track, which is based on Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
The show also featured plenty of dancing and crowd participation during the more upbeat songs of the night. Although, as Smith would say, most of the songs are still incredibly depressing-- they just do a good job at masking the depressing content with happy-sounding music. For example, newer song “Lethargy” is ironically upbeat and great to dance to, much like their debut single from Wild World, “Good Grief.” Despite being a song about losing someone and the grieving process that accompanies the loss, it’s hard to resist busting out your spirit fingers during the song’s catchy chorus. As far as crowd participation, “The Draw,” a track from the extended version of Bad Blood (called All This Bad Blood), had everyone moving their hands along to the beat during its chorus, in the shape of triangles. The biggest form of crowd participation, hands down, occurs during Bastille’s mashup cover song “Of The Night,” taken from their mixtape Other People’s Heartache. During the mix of Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night” and Snap!’s “Rhythm is a Dancer,” Smith asks that everyone stoops down right before the explosive chorus, and then jumps up and down with him on his command. A highlight at any of their shows, but especially in a venue the size of The Aragon, it’s such a spectacle to see a crowd of thousands jumping in unity.
In addition to the new arrangements of old favorites and the extensive video production that accompanied each song performed, which is exclusive to this Wild, Wild World Tour, the band also kept things fresh on this tour by conducting a daily Twitter poll for fans to vote on a coveted slot on the setlist. The song that won for Chicago was “The Anchor” (our personal favorite…no idea why), which closes out the 19-track version of Wild World. Another incredible addition to this tour was the ASL signer that the band had stationed in the sound booth, for audience members who are hard of hearing. The only other time I’ve seen this wonderful service provided at a gig was actually during Bastille’s Lollapalooza performance last year.
Lastly, Bastille’s three-song encore really packed a punch, closing out the magical evening in a massive way. Kicking off with Smith and Farquarson in one of the Aragon’s balcony alcoves, the pair performed the Tarantino-esque track "Two Evils" while Smith balanced on the balcony ledge. After that adrenaline-boosting performance, the energy escalated with the crowd favorite “Icarus.” As the evening drew to a close, the energy remained at an all time high as Bastille invited Mondo Cozmo to join them onstage during their hit “Pompeii.” Rearranged from the studio version, the live version of “Pompeii” just hits you right in the heartstrings. When the song came to an end, lingering chants of eh-ohs mingled with cheers and claps that echoed throughout the Aragon Ballroom (or “Shrek’s Paradise,” as Smith calls it) as the band exited the stage.
What the band delivered in production quality, they brought equally, if not more, in sound quality and musicianship. Bastille is one of those bands that somehow always manages to sound even better live, and last night was no exception. The Wild, Wild World Tour will continue throughout North America through mid-May. Do not miss this captivating, interactive, and unforgettable show if you get the chance to see it! You can check out all of the tour dates here.
Photo Gallery: Bastille's Wild Wild World Tour // Chicago // Aragon Ballroom 4.3.17
1. Send Them Off!
2. Laura Palmer
8. Things We Lost in the Fire
9. The Draw
10. The Currents
11. The Anchor
12. Bad Blood
13. Four Walls
15. Of The Night
16. Fake It
17. Weight of Living, Pt. 11
19. Good Grief
20. Two Evils