Review and photos – Bloc Party at the Commodore Ballroom, April 27 2009
– review by Kayla Joffe/photo by Melissa Skoda
It appeared to be a fashion show, but there was no runway and the venue was the Commodore Ballroom.
There was copious amounts of lace, spandex, lace spandex and extremely abrasive hoodies, and it seemed like everyone was trying to one up each other with better and louder outfits than that of the person next to them. But everyone stopped condemning each other the moment Bloc Party walked onto the stage. This may have been because of the flashing purple, pink and indigo lights that blinded the crowd, or because Bloc Party rocked out for almost two full hours, but whatever it was, the audience let fashionplates be fashionplates.
It only took until the second song before the start of the electronic laser gun sounds, which continued throughout the show. Normally, random beeping noises bother the hell out of me, but these were no ordinary beeps. The controlled guitar, xylophone and keyboard noises turned electronic were absolutely fascinating to hear and watch. You rarely get to hear live electronic music, as most of it is now overproduced and saved on a computer, but these London dudes have obviously been experimenting with their instruments. And boy, do they know how to play.
And perform. Near the very beginning of the show, frontman Kele Okereke spotted someone in the front row who had a Bloc Party tattoo, and stopped the music to address this obviously die-hard fan. He and the bassist Gordon Moakes gave the fan a high-five and Okereke gave him his pick, instantly getting the audience on the band’s side, if it wasn’t already.
The highly anticipated “Positive Tension”, from the group’s 2005 debut Silent Alarm, note-for-note perfect, came two songs in, and got the crowd dancing. After, Okereke stuck his nose in the air and leaned into the microphone to say: “It smells like the inside of a bong!” The crowd erupted with laughter. The lights were one of the main focuses of the show, especially during “Biko”. The stagelights dimmed to allow iridescent purple lights backlight the band members, changing the mood to romantic and prompting people to raise their cellphones in unison.
But aside from the 20-odd people crowd surfing and pseudo-mashing at the front of the stage, as the show went on, everyone else seemed kind of lame. There was a lot of head-nodding and arm-crossing going on. In fact, one of the lighting guys called the audience, “a Coldplay-type of crowd!” Any time they played one of their hits, like “Banquet”, everyone became super-loud and animated. But as soon as the song was finished, so was the audience.
By the end of the set, though, people had regained enough energy for a Bloc Party chant that was so loud the boys came back out with the biggest smiles of the night on their faces. Okereke started to sing Queen‘s “We Will Rock You”. And they proceeded to do just that, again, for another four songs.
More Bloc Party at the Commodore Ballroom photos: