It might have been Dan Smith’s first time playing a show in Philadelphia, but he didn’t need to spend a lot of time winning over the crowd. At Union Transfer on Sunday night, the frontman of UK alternative dance outfit Bastille played to adoring cheers and hands stretched in the air from more or less the moment he walked out onstage. He could have very well stayed put at the microphone and just sang motionless for an hour, and the sold-out all-ages audience would have eaten it up, but that’s not how Smith does things. Opening with the simmering title track of his 2013 debut LP Bad Blood, he kicked and leaped, threw a surplus of kinetic energy into his performance – it was the opening song, and not necessarily danceable on the album version, but he made it a dance jam. Over the course of Bastille’s hour plus set, Smith moved on to keyboards, then floor-tom aux percussion, and back to vocals, working the overjoyed front row with charisma. The album is heavy on wordless woah-oh refrains and hooky singalongs, so interaction was at a max.
“Laura Palmer” was a sweet highlight mid-set, handily sampling Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score; earlier, the band walked out on stage to the TV cult classic’s theme song, and between the two, you had to wonder if Bastille were collectively aware that they were performing in a part of town known as the Eraserhood. “Icarus” was the dance apex of the main set; during “Flaws,” Smith jumped into the crowd trailing the longest microphone cable known to man behind him, singing most of the song from the midst of the masses and looking very Rocky in his grey hoodie. The encore got a little unexpected and strange with a cover of Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night” (yes, really) but Bastille made it work as best he could before launching into a fierce closer of the single “Pompeii.” Smith was dancing like a madman, the crowd was jumping along en masse and the energy was infectious. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below, and check out the setlist and some fan videos below.
Bastille | Photo by John Vettese