On The List :: Bloc Party @ Webster Hall [8.6.08]

Bloc Party takes the stage with a false challenge. Lead singer, Kele Okereke says, "you know, New York, we're coming off some of the best shows of our career. You don't want to let Philly best you now?" Sure the band played Lollapallooza over the weekend but Philly? Telling a hungry New York crowd that Philly brought the noise is a bit like telling a speeding dump truck that there's a Kia at the of bottom of a hill that just won't move. Sure it will. Just watch.

The band isn't loud enough as they start to rip through "Hunting For Witches." The crowd won't stand for it and is pointing to the sky with the international symbol for "turn it up." It's hard to say if the band gets louder but the first 20 rows are at hurricane force from the jump. As the opening chords of "Positive Tension" sneak out of the speakers, Webster Hall claps along over our heads and into the night. It's a scene that will repeat itself at least 10 times before the night is through: a crowd of close to 1,500 clapping in unison and trying to bring the walls down.

("This Modern Love" @ Webster Hall 8.6.08)

The band closes their set with the three song tidal wave of "This Modern Love," "Song For Clay," and the still relevant "Banquet." It rockets you back to spring 2005 when you put "Banquet" on at your parties and you played "This Modern Love" for your girlfriend and it confirmed that the world was a beautiful, if broken, experiment. The band isn't done but the crowd works for an encore. We are clapping again and everyone is a little gassed.

(Kele sails to the stage)

The band returns with "Like Eating Glass" and we're in the second row trying to find our second wind. For 45 minutes, we've been breathing in other people's body heat and the crowd has metastasized into an almost mosh pit. It's 98.6 degrees or hotter. Kele rips off stage and into the (his) right side of the audience. He ends up about halfway back in the crowd against the wall, putting on some kind of magnanimous dance while the band rips through an instrumental "She's Hearing Voices." In the moment of the night, he sails out into the audience and rides a wave of hands towards the stage. It looks a little like a stop-motion video of a reverse stage dive. He rides the 40-plus feet to the stage and the band immediately kicks into "Helicopter." In China they're having earthquakes - New York is having Bloc Party.

They bow. They just played a four song encore. What else is there? So, they head backstage. Bloc Party roadies are turning off amps. No one moves. The clapping starts again. My ears are ringing. The amps get turned back on and here comes the band. Kele says we blew the pants off Philly but we already knew that. "Pioneers" is their real last song and the crowd finds one last blast of oxygen. It was 75 minutes of pure fanaticism. It was 75 minutes of energy and stage dives and getting pushed around by complete strangers. It was a rock band and a crowd killing themselves for the mutual hope of something transcendent. Well, it happened and 13 hours later the shirt drying on my doorknob is still damp enough to prove it. If anyone asks about Bloc Party, echo that epic last line of "Flux." We need to talk.


Anonymous said...

great review. i bullshitted my way up 2 balcony seats. i was the maniac banging on the wooden awning all night. such energy, the band were amazing, the crowd was too. best show ive been to in a long time.

Anonymous said...

you forgot to mention the cover of "I Would Die 4 U" leading into Flux! I almost passed out from the excitement or from my heinous sinus infection, either way...amazing!