Bastille at Academy 2: October 11th 2012

The rain may have been pouring down outside but that didn’t stop the fun downstairs in The Academy. Three hotly tipped acts, Bastille, Swiss Lips and Orla Gartland on the bill, was more than enough to ensure a sell out. Vanessa Monaghan went to check out what all the fuss was about.

Over the past while Orla Gartland has garnered serious praise and has received a whopping nine, yes, 9 million views on YouTube. when she takes to the Academy stage, Ms Gartland is faced with a slightly weird situation. The crowd in the venue is still quite sparse but there is a row of about seven people standing in a line straight across in front of the stage, with no one behind them. So close, Ms G could probably have smelled their cologne. It didn’t faze our heroine as she performed outstandingly with people literally breathing down her neck.

Female singer songwriters can get bunched and labelled together, but Gartland has a quirkiness about her performance and songs and distances herself from the whiney brigade. Throughout her set, we are treated to tracks such as ‘Ripping at The Seams’, ‘Bandit’ and a cover of Laura Marling’s ‘Cross Your Fingers’ as well as Gartland’s current single, ‘Devil On My Shoulder’. She performs each song with passion and this can easily be heard in her vocals and seen in her performance, facial and gestures giving it all. She can only be destined for greatness.

Your scribe’s first introduction to Swiss Lips is a slightly unusual one. On the way back from the convenience, a voice can be heard shouting “Tom, I’m sorry I have to hurry you but you were due on stage two minutes ago.’ Thirty seconds later, the venue is filled with a synth filled indie eighties sound. Front man Sam Hammond pretty much fuels the connection by wearing a customised jacket that oozes the eighties vibe.

Away from similarities to bygone days, Swiss Lips have catchy songs, extremely catchy songs. Good hooks, “ooh ooh” refrains and extremely danceable rhythms means it doesn’t take much effort to have the crowd right where they want them. The five piece cleverly use triggered sounds throughout their set and their set is all about the songs. Proper songs, not just some samples and a chorus, each track builds and rises and falls with perfection. The tracks ‘Books’ and ‘In the Water’ are given an airing while ‘Danz’ and ‘U Got the Power’ are standouts, the latter featuring a sublime bass line and chorus. This, surprisingly was the Manchester band’s début Dublin performance and going on their musicianship and crowd reaction, they could easily have headlined.

Standing room within the cavernous venue had very quickly became a high value commodity with everyone vying for the best view. Bastille had previously played at Camden Crawl Dublin and would have to seriously be on their game if they were to outshine their support acts. For a band still relatively unknown in these parts, the audience were in full voice from the opening notes of ‘Icarus’.

One of the noteworthy aspects of tonight’s gig, for all acts, are the songs and the instrumentation which accompanies them. With Bastille, Dan’s voice is extremely central to their sound and the melodies and harmonies that surround it are beautifully arranged. The crowd react to this and by the second song of their set ‘Things We Lost in The Fire’, already have their arms in the air showing their appreciation. This is followed quickly by singing in unison to ‘Overjoyed’.

The free download release of ‘Other People Heartaches’ by the band earlier this year featured their takes on songs and mash-ups from other artists. City High’s ‘What Would You Do?‘ is given the Bastille treatment and every audience member knows the words. The band have fantastic harmonies and ‘Sleepsong’ exhibits this beautifully with the four members of the band lined up across the front of the stage. This is followed by the piano led, ‘Oblivion’.

The vibe is immediately lifted with ‘Bad Blood’ and gives the audience another chance to sing their hearts out. Every generation has their musical heroes and going on how many of the audience are reacting, Bastille just might be them. ‘Laura Palmer’ is followed by new single ‘Flaws’. The audience is giving it their all and the band are recognising this. Lead singer Dan Smith has unsuccessfully tried to climb up so he can see the people at the back of the venue so instead he, pops up his hood and go for a wander through the crowd, high fiving people and never missing a note of ‘Flaws’.

He does a great job of trying to tangle himself up in his microphone cord on one side of the venue before making his way back to the stage, ably assisted by a troop of microphone cable handlers. He’s not done though and leaves the stage to walk down the other side of the venue. Hugs and high fives all the way. He somehow makes it back to the stage again, just as the track ends, to deafening roars of approval.

The band stay on stage and Smith mentions that they would normally have left before doing an encore. On this occasion, the crowd are so pepped up, they never would have made it. Smith does all the talking for the band and genuinely seems to be thrilled with the reaction and then apologies for “killing the vibe” as he introduces ‘Get Home’. The night ends with another cover from ‘Other People’s Heartaches’. Academy 2 becomes dance anthem central for ‘Of the night’ , which mashes up ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm of the Night’.

The crowd are still clapping and cheering as the band leave the stage, promotional posters of the band which had been strategically placed around the venue, have been ripped from their spots. Fantastic songs, fantastic performance and a fantastic audience reaction. All this before an album is released. Next time, Bastille will need a much bigger venue.


Bastille Photo Gallery

Photos: Kieran Frost