"Oh look," you're thinking, "another Bloc Party review. There's nothing new here. What could you possibly tell me that I don't already know?"
How about, Bloc Party is prepping the Second Coming? Just stick with me, this story has a little history to it.
FLASHBACK: Two years ago, on a crowded Red River, sitting in front of the ticket office at Stubb's. My disappointment showed through a sweaty exterior as I was rejected from a SPIN showcase with a headlining performance from Bloc Party, the newest "IT" band to come out of the UK. All the buzz going around infiltrated my ears as I moped down the street.
"Yea they were amazing. Best band this year."
"Yep, SXSW won't know what hit them when they're through."
Everyone was seeing these guys but me. What a horrible feeling. I turned the corner onto 8th and headed for the highway I had parked under. With my feet dragging and no one around but me and my new homeless friend, I began to cross the bridge behind the missed venue. Out of nowhere a sound erupted. I recognized this loop, this effect. Why would they be playing Silent Alarm over the loud speakers on the streets? I looked to my left to see the back of the stage, and realized that I was hearing the concert I so badly wanted to see. I sat on that bridge with Jim the Hobo for the remainder, listening to the golden ecstasy of Bloc Party's set. It was then I vowed to see them in person, to actually take part in watching and experiencing the Party.
PRESENT DAY: Sitting on the same crowded street, with two new, and home-owning comrades, waiting to be let in. Our friend has told us not to worry about the tickets, he'd help us out. As each minute passed the tension grew, would we actually make it in? At last, our friend arrives, with four VIP passes no less. Relief washes over me in an awesome wave as I realize, the circle is now complete. We walk in and stake out our spot atop the masses, overlooking the side of the stage. The excitement can hardly be contained.
Starting promptly at 9:15pm, the boys took the stage to the ambient noise of electronic fuzz and opened the show with a new song, "Waiting For The 7.18." What followed was something...different.
"Waiting...", showcased something I was not ready for. Never having actually seen the band, I was ready for an onslaught of spastic motions and darting pricks of intensity. Guitarist Russell Lissack's faded wave of guitar started us off, the crowd in front slowly rocking back and forth, entranced by the aural sweetness. Frontman Okereke's emoting vocals soon followed. Right away the song could be written off as a carbon copy of the debut's emotional "Blue Light," or "So Here We Are," but just as you are about to give up, Matt Tong's drums kick in, Lissack strikes the high fuzz, and bassist Gordon Moakes lifts and carries you along into the chorus. Still, in the end, the song feels like it could have been a B-Side to Silent Alarm. I was left feeling that I knew the song, but couldn't place it. Before I could think much longer the bass began to drive again, the hip-busting line to "Positive Tension" and the show really started.
From then on it was everything you've read about or seen in person. Frenetic licks, spastic motions, sweat, tears, emotion. I was ready for this part, I had read of the sultry sound of Kele's vocal talents, of Tong's speed and intensity. But being my first time to actually witness it, the joy flowed forth. They hit all the highlights, "Helicopter," "Banquet," "Like Eating Glass," "This Modern Love," and "Price Of Gas." It was all satisfying, just as I had expected.
Then, another surprise. A new track (I believe it to be "Kreuzberg") was announced; they hadn't played it live before so we were in for a treat. The crowd went silent with anticipation. Slowly and softly the new track was performed. It was dream like, almost pretty. Just like with "Waiting...," we were all set down in a comfortable place at the start, but then, as the chorus hits, we were thrown into a violent riff of heavy distortion and quick change. It is as if, with the new material, a sense of urgency has left and been replaced with aggression. No longer is there a need to get their sound out, to make known who they are. They are now here to show you what's going on in the world, and make known exactly how they feel about it. By song's end, I was out of breath from trying to keep up. If this track is any indication of how the rest of the next album will sound, I think they should title it The Second Coming.
With the last lingering lyrics from "Pioneers" floating over the crowd, Okereke and Co. left the stage, the last thing I saw before the lights went out was an almost iconic image of a Telecaster face down in the middle of the stage, choked by its own wire. Fighting through the heat and sweat (and beer), Bloc Party seemed happy to please us all on this last gig of their short US tour, and we were all pleased by their happiness. It is my personal prediction that when the next album hits sometime early next year, we will all reinforce what's already been said of Bloc Party, we will uphold our belief that they are Indie Rock at the moment, and if nothing else, we will continue to be amazed by the break-neck speed and technicality of their live shows. Whatever is said, though, about these UK boys, they will never attempt to disappoint when it comes time to perform.
Set List (* new)
01. "Waiting for the 7.18"*
02. "Positive Tension"
04. "Blue Light"
05. "She's Hearing Voices"
06. "Kreuzberg" (?)*
07. "This Modern Love"
08. "Like Eating Glass"
09. "Little Thoughts"
11. "Two More Years"
12. "Price of Gas"
13. "So Here We Are"
by Kyle Rother