REVIEW: Bastille, Echosmith, Mini Mansions – Custom House Square
The penultimate night of Belsonic saw Indie Pop band Bastille play Custom House Square, joined by Echosmith, Mini Mansions, and a lot of rain.
First on the bill was Mini Mansions, a three piece from Los Angeles founded by Zach Dawes, Tyler Parkford and Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman. The band played an entertaining set for those who had made the effort to brave the elements and get down early. Dressed appropriately in eccentric suits that complimented their unique brand of psychedelic pop, the three piece treated the audience to an eclectic set, showcasing their ability to produce music that is both whimsical and dark.
A good example of this was their performance of “Heart of Glass”, a haunting cover of the Blondie classic. This alongside newer material from their latest album The Great Pretenders made an enjoyable soundtrack for the crowds filtering through the gates of Custom House Square. Finishing with single ”Freakout!” the band exited the stage, whilst the crowd fumbled with their complimentary red ponchos and resigned themselves to the fact that the evening was going to be a wet one.
Next on stage were American Indie Pop four piece Echosmith – a family affair composed of four siblings. Drummer Graham Sierota was first on stage, gradually being joined by the others in a crescendo leading to the entrance of singer Sydney Sierota, tambourine in hand. The bad went straight into “Let’s Love”, from their 2013 release Talking Dreams.
A particularly good showcase of Echosmith’s talent was their performance of “Bright”, which included the temporary use of a double bass and three of the four piece singing a capella. Hit single “Cool Kids” was met with great enthusiasm, as anyone within a ten mile radius of a radio will be familiar with this song.
Echosmith interacted with the crowd throughout their set, taking photos and encouraging audience participation to the extent where they asked two members of the crowd to come on stage and dance with them. The band made it clear they were very excited to be in Belfast, having never been to Ireland before. This enthusiasm coupled with their melodic Indie Pop appeared to be infectious, as the audience happily danced and clapped along, despite the on going downpour.
The time taken to prepare the stage for headline act Bastille is testament to the amount of technical detail that goes into their set. Beginning slightly after half past nine meant that Belsonic was soon to be flooded in darkness. This darkness served to compliment the band and their show, which is as much a visual experience as it is an audio one. Starting with “Things We Lost In The Fire” Bastille began with the synth pop sound for which they are known and loved. Lead singer Dan Smith performed with high energy from the get go, bounding around the stage and delivering faultless vocals throughout.
Bastille released their debut album Bad Blood in 2013 and have since been working on their highly anticipated second release. The first of a few new songs they played for the crowd was “Hangin’”.’ It was highly evident from this performance that the band have developed a heavier sound for their second album, choosing to incorporate an electric guitar which gives their music a slightly grittier feel. Despite the obvious familiarity the crowd had for the band’s older songs, the new material was well received, with the audience very responsive to Dan’s requests for crowd participation.
Next on the set list was “Flaws”, a song for which lead singer Dan is known for entering the crowd as teenage girls paw at him and scream in his face. Given the fact that Custom House Square is a large, outdoor venue we probably would have forgiven him if he had chosen to stay on stage, but Dan walked through the rain soaked crowd and delivered a faultless performance. This kind of audience interaction is an integral part of a Bastille gig, however nobody anticipated what was yet to come.
As Dan joined his band mates back on stage we were informed that a member of the crowd had an announcement to make, or rather, a proposal. Catherine Louise Campbell, from Belfast, was left stunned when her partner took the opportunity to pop the question. The couple, soaked to the skin and wearing their fetching red ponchos were greeted with loud cheers from both the crowd and the band.
With everyone in high spirits Bastille continued their set. As a live act they’re hard to fault – instrumentally slick and vocally tight, the choral backing vocals complimenting Dan’s voice perfectly. A pleasant surprise was the fact that they performed “No Angels”, a mash up cover of “No Scrubs” by TLC and “Angels” by The XX. Fans of the band will be aware that they don’t always perform their covers at live shows, so this really was a treat.
The band finished their set with “Pompeii”, arguably the song we had all been waiting for. This was somewhat of a moment, with every single person in the crowd chanting along to the now infamous intro and chorus. The band thanked the crowd for braving the rain, and promised to come back soon. With the release of their second album imminent, we can all cross our fingers that this will lead to a tour to include a Belfast show. Lyndsey Hogarth, GiggingNI.com