Bloc Party – [Live]

Sunday, 05 April 2009

I have a very interesting relationship with Bloc Party. When they first hit the scene in 2004 with “Helicopter” and “Banquet,” I was all about them because I was a DJ and these cuts ruled the dancefloor—and still do. But, since I was so focused on their upbeat jams, I didn’t really pay much attention to the rest of Silent Alarm. I know, it’s sad and stupid, but that was the deal unfortunately. And when A Weekend in the City came out, I skipped through the album looking for the dancefloor killers and none really popped out in my mind, so I never really got into the album. Let’s just say I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

Skip to about a year ago when A Weekend in the City came on my iPod on random and I couldn’t believe my ears. This was amazing music, and it’s been sitting there collecting digital dust for a few years? How pathetic! They immediately jumped to one of my favorite bands of this decade and just in time for Intimacy to come out too. I caught them at last year’s Lollapalooza and I just didn’t have the experience I was hoping for standing about a mile away watching them on a video screen with some drunk bastard pissing on my girlfriend’s feet. It was an OK show, but I needed that flawless music to engulf me like it does on my headphones.

Skip ahead to late-March 2009, when Bloc Party played the ever-so-kooky Aragon Theater in Chicago, and I can finally get the experience I was hoping for. According to lead singer Kele Okereke, they were scheduled to play the Ultra Festival the night before but they canceled because he lost his voice and, most importantly, “didn’t want let 4000 Chicagoans down,” which we all were quite thankful for. So here they were, on a totally disgusting evening where Mother Nature decided to play a cruel joke on the city and think freezing cold rain would be funny. It wasn’t.

Right at 9:15, Bloc Party hit the stage and opened with a one-two punch from Intimacy, “One Month Off” and “Trojan Horse,” to get the party started. They’ve been playing the former a ton on the radio here so people were just jumping, screaming, and someone in the audience was dancing with an open umbrella. That’s a first for me. Then they jumped back to 2007’s hit single, “Hunting for Witches,” which really just about started a riot. I knew people loved Bloc Party, but the fact that they had to move venues from the Riviera across the street to the Aragon, means the demand was pretty incredible. Fans from front to back were all dancing, or if they can’t dance—like the super buff dude next to me with the tribal tats—they were at least shaking side to side. And for me, if they audience is into it like they were, that energy carries over and makes one of the worst-sounding venues in the city sound worthy of a symphony.

They continued to pound out song after song, such as, “The Prayer,” “Positive Tension.” “Mercury,” and my personal favorite, “On.” As much as I love the really rockin’ songs from Bloc Party, I have more affinity toward the slower and more mellow songs like that one, “Biko” and “I Still Remember,” which is kind of ironic, and exactly what I meant by looking for love in all the wrong places.

The good part is that I definitely found the love tonight. And despite being at the Aragon, which as I mentioned in another review, sounds like prom in a high school gym and looks like you stepped into Medieval Times, drummer Matthew Tong gets on the mic and says, “I feel like I’m having a flashback!” to which Kele replied, “Yeah, this is the first time we’ve rocked a palace.” But they were good about keeping your attention on them and not the 7 giant Viking swords that are hanging above the stage. I got the experience I was looking for and couldn’t be happier.


“Mercury” by Bloc Party – [mp3]
“Banquet” by Bloc Party – [mp3]
“Signs (Armand Van Helden remix)” – [mp3]

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