If ever superpowers existed, Bastille would have the gift of time-travel.
As I sat – entranced – watching the band’s sold-out performance at the Lifestyle Communities Outdoor Pavilion Tuesday – for just one night, I believed in the realness of supernatural abilities.
The night was sticky – filled with a summer dew and a post-midday haze that breathed a life of summer into the fans gathered to see Brit-based Bastille. Young twenty-somethings donning patterned rompers and high-waisted jorts fanned each other to keep cool – in several cases, with a brewski in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The sky was stained blue-orange as the sun began its descent, and the opening act, Wolf Gang, took the stage.
Wolf Gang preluded Bastille with upbeat, symphonic rock sounds, rallying the sweating crowd into a tizzy of excitement. Wide-eyed fans began snapping the all-too-common, 21st-century phenomenon dubbed a “selfie” as the light-hearted group prepared the audience for “Pompeii.” The band’s semi-poppy music coincided all too well with the ebbing daylight. Wolf Gang shares the same London origin as Bastille, but its sound starkly contrasts with the more beautifully twisted dark sound of Bastille.
As the waning sun finally set, the hands that were once reaching for cups of water began clutching in desperation for Bastille to come out.
And as the darkness of the looming night set in, Bastille made its entrance.
Lead-singer Dan Smith walked out nonchalantly, his American-flag shoes betraying the fact that he had traveled more than 3,500 miles with his band to appear on its first outdoor stage in the United States. But as soon as he opened his mouth to sing the opening of “Bad Blood,” the British singer’s rich voice smoothed over any traces of confusion.
The drums and bass began in that unmistakable “Bad Blood” beat, and the “oohs” and “ahhs” began to fill the night. Orange fog filled the otherwise blackened stage, and the song erupted like a thundering storm. It was the most perfect beginning to that incredibly mystic, spell-bounding sound that belongs solely to Bastille.
A chill ran up my back.
After a stunning three songs, I migrated from the pit to the grassy lawn to bask in the chilling night air and the soothing sounds of Bastille. All-too-perfect timing, because the eerie whistles of “Poet” began whispering across the pavilion in the most eloquent, hair-prickling kind of way. The eeriness swept over the night in the same breeze that lifted my hair, and Bastille slowed it down for “Overjoyed.”
That was the moment. That was the moment when time traveled, or at least it felt like it.
It was haunting and entrancing and completely breathtaking. There I sat at roughly 9 p.m., amidst the LC’s first sold-out show of the summer, and I felt like I was alone in “the dead of night” with just Bastille. Somehow — by some means — the band found a way to make the night carry that thrilling, liberating type of exhilaration that exists only in the hours that exist beyond the depths of midnight.
I realized it was the type of music I’d want to listen to while climbing to the top of a mountain — that moment when your breath’s been stolen, you’re gasping for air and you realize you’re overlooking a vastness you never knew existed.
For the next few songs, the synthesizers and keyboard and haunting harmonization transported me — and I’m sure others around me — to a different time of night. To the time of night when skinny dipping in a lake seems like a good idea. To the time of night that’s perfect for sitting in storms. To the time of night meant for sweatshirts and shorts and barefoot walks on the sand. To the time of night where shadows and silhouettes creep onto these streets. To the time of night where I want to open my bedroom window and feel the night air and hear that song. To the time of night where anything can happen.
“Things We Lost in the Fire” transitioned to “Flaws,” where Smith’s voice started to peter out, winded by the richness and soul of the gut-wrenching songs before it. In my book, it was a completely excusable reality of the live performance because of the sheer charm of his voice and the capability of his bandmates to carry the song.
The end of the concert transitioned seamlessly into the beginning of the encore without much pause.
With Smith on the keyboard, “Daniel in the Den” kicked off the encore with blue and purple lights misting the stage like a midnight facade. The mask of midnight set the backdrop for “Of the Night,” a song filled with new age, synthetic beats that captivated me even further. Everyone in the grass took Smith’s lead, ducking at his command and rising only when the tempo itself rose.
And then — before the night was over — the long-awaited, slightly slowed-down version of (what else?) “Pompeii.” Believe it or not, the song was better live. It carried a magic of its own and instilled a dreaminess of its own. It was beautiful.
As the song ended and as the band went silent, there was a stillness in the pavilion — if only just for a moment. The concert lights brightened like a star in the sky, and they stayed on.
Everyone around me began to murmur and rise up from their trance, but I chose to just close my eyes and pretend like nothing changed at all.
Because for one moment, we had all been carried forward in time — if only for a night.
Now let’s rewind.