Bastille with Joywave
South Side Ballroom – Dallas, Texas – October 17, 2019 | Words and Photos by Cassie Preston
My boss was sitting by me when I got a last minute call that I was booked for the Bastille & Joywave show … in a few hours. I told my boss I got the show and he said, “… wait … who are they?”. I imagine that’s how a lot of people feel about Bastille … unfortunately. I tell him that he has heard them, he just doesn’t know it. I play the first four seconds of Pompeii off their first solo album, Bad Blood, the iconic choir echoes jog his memory. “Oh, yeahhh …”. Pompeii is what really solidified the band’s place in the Indie Pop music scene.
Joywave, an indie pop band out of New York, has two EPs and is adding another album in 2020. The band’s name is displayed on the stage screen in bold, white Arial white font with the number “3” as an exponent at the end. The bottom left hand corner has defined the number “3” as Possession, the name of that unreleased album for 2020. Joywave produces methodical rhythms with a slow, brooding undertone. Joywave’s opening song, “Like a Kennedy” is a slow burn. This kind of music is good if you want to focus, make a fatty “to-do” list and get some shit done in your life but all you need is some music as a background. I didn’t realize this until I smelled that marijuana cigarette coming from somewhere to my right. Joywave would also be absolutely amazing if you were high.
The lead singer, Daniel Armbruster, is extremely likable and charismatic as a front man. After “Blastoffff”, he tells the story about how he has been giving Bastille a backwards peace sign all tour-long, saying, “We’ll see you guys later.” According to Daniel Armbruster, it wasn’t until five weeks later that Bastille’s tour manager explained the meaning of that backwards peace sign. Curious? In the UK, it means to go fuck yourself. Like all good opening bands, they warm the crowd up for the headliners and shamelessly plug their band for those 60 minute smaller venue tours.
JOYWAVE SETLIST :
- Like a Kennedy
- Somebody New
- Blank Slate
- Half Your Age
- Traveling At The Speed Of Light
- It’s A Trip!
The set design for the Bastille show is extensive with a high step ladder, what could be a two person trampoline (which will later rotate), and a platform on the right with a vintage TV set and meager elementary school chair, along with their actual musical equipment: two pianos/keyboards, a drum set (which is placed front stage right and facing across the stage) and guitars that will be switched in and out. The UK band is led by Dan Smith on vocals, piano and keyboards (did you know those two things have to be listed separately?). Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson offer supporting vocals along with bass, guitar and piano/keyboards. Chris Wood is on drums. The band opens the show with, “Quarter Past Midnight” and the screens behind the band turn to a dreamy blue and pink pixelated sunset with a classic console font that reads, “Act 1 : “Still Avoiding Tomorrow”. Yeah guys, me too … But wait, didn’t Young the Giant do this same thing for their Mirror Master tour?
Smith begins an introduction for The Waves off their newest album, Dooms Day. And honestly, I get lost somewhere along the way. I think the explanation was supposed to be deep and cathartic but the story fell flat. For Two Evils, Smith retreats to the top of that stair ladder where the entire stage lights are dimmed and there is a single white ray of light shining atop him. The screen behind him displays a crimson crescent moon which, as this somber song continues, eventually turns full. Despite the somber mood, the man in front of me has established an entire radius of space around him that is completely dedicated to his dance moves. I would not dare to get into his danger zone. As the song comes to a close, our dancing friend takes a moment to enthusiastically rehydrate.
Act Two : “Those Nights” begins with a stage change; now there is a sofa and a lamp that spins on that rotating platform. Smith speaks straight to the audience, “Are you guys having a good time? Good … because we are going to destroy that. This is the title track of Doom Days. And it’s incredibly sad.” Well, damn. Here goes nothing, Doom Days. Throughout Smith’s performance, I watch him jump from that sofa around the stage. On the screen behind the band the words read, “I’m addicted to my phone”; remember my Houndmouth review? I felt that on a spiritual level. However, I’m not quite sure why these elaborate stage props are necessary. Bastille puts on an explosive and upbeat performance without these accessories.
Smith stops between sets, “You! Yeah? You want me to sign it? Pass it up.” The band signs a record from someone in the crowd. “You guys have been fucking awesome … and it’s a Thursday!”. The next song, “Of the Night” is passionate and uplifting. It seems like South Side Ballroom has turned very quickly into an actual dance club but with real artists instead of a DJ.
Bastille brings out Joywave for the final two songs of the evening. Charming and handsome Armbruster of Joywave talks to the crowd about the songs that have been played up to this point, “Perfectly constructed; no complaints, right?”. The crowd erupts because there is ONE, OBVIOUS song left that hasn’t played : Pompeii. Smith & Armbruster tag team beating on a drum together that serves as a backbone of the song. Once again, that sage screen at the back of the stage now reads, “ALERT TODAY ALIVE TOMORROW”. The sound, the music, the air in the room is uplifting and that is how they end the night. There is no encore because after Pompeii, Bastille doesn’t need one.
BASTILLE SET LIST
ACT ONE : Still Avoiding Tomorrow
ACT TWO : Those Nights
- Bad Decisions
- Those Nights
- Bad Blood
- Doom Days
- Another Place
- Good Grief
- Of the Night
- Million Pieces