While there's decidedly something wrong with the audio at Sony stage, those tinnier acoustics did wonders for Bloc Party’s older material tonight. Silent Alarm tracks like “This Modern Love,” “So Here We Are” and MTV2 classic “Banquet” brought melody to an overtly Gang of Four style of rock—and got the whole audience clapping in time, stretched all the way past the sound booth. Add this one to my massive list of bands I’d presumed dead until Lolla 2012. But even relatively newer cuts like 2009’s “One More Chance” brought the house down. Sparseness and stark arrangements are what Bloc Party does best, and that song has such a minimalist Chicago house style to it that even the Sony speakers made Gordon Moakes’ electric piano sound worthy of Perry's-level bass.
“Come on, Lollapalooza!” yelled Kele Okereke before one of the newer tunes. “Don't be a pussy, show us what you got!” I guess I’m a pussy, dude. Your new shit sounds awful, like Sleigh Bells hired an actual backing band but still failed to sound a bit like rock & roll. Even the stuff off 2008’s Intimacy sounded pretty bad ("One More Chance" was a post-album single, so it's safe), and I blame that more recent material for my surprise when Bloc Party garnered one of this weekend’s most sizable audiences thus far.
"War, war, war, war/I want to declare a war" might be the most phoned-in hook I've heard all weekend. It’s old, but I have to call Kele out on this one. That's literally the thumb war song—Okereke raps it in the same cadence as a child at recess—with a couple of words changed. There’s a reason he felt compelled to insult us before that number, and it rhymes with “nitty thong-biting.”
The dancier material, particularly songs off sophomore album A Weekend in the City, made way for Bloc Party’s sweet spot. I remember dismissing that record when it dropped, as it was such a departure from Silent Alarm, but we all know that Joy Division fans did the same thing when Movement came out. I’ll admit I was wrong to cut that album short as an overproduced, commercial jag. Tonight, that album’s “Flux” was a dynamo on the same level of Robyn’s newer material, gutting anti-EDM purists with ballsy bass and Matt Tong’s relentless, Stephen Morris-esque battery. If you weren't dancing, you either weren't in the crowd or something terrible happened to you today.
These cuts were also testament to the fact that, no matter what kind of musician you are at Lollapalooza, if you can play a solid two-and-four dance beat, you will destroy your audience. People are here to get down and get fucked up. Yes, it might be 90-something degrees, or it might rain and send us to invade the Loop for a couple of panicked hours, flooding hotel bars with suburbanites and hundreds of ignorant young women dressed in the Native American equivalent of blackface. But this is Chicago, and the party is of foremost importance. Good thing we had England in the house this evening. Skins was originally a British show, you’ll remember. And New Order pretty much invented the whole dance band thing. Just sayin’.