Last Night: Bloc Party at the Grove of Anaheim, Dec. 15th, 2008.
Better Than: Sulking at home while it rains.
Download: The "Mercury" video from Bloc Party's Web site.
Rain didn't scare away the throngs of kids who soaked up a mesmerizing performance Monday night by noted Britain indie rockers Bloc Party. Touring behind their third album Intimacy, just released in late October, Russell Lissack's electronically mangled guitar on songs like "Trojan Horse" underpinned Kele Okereke's impassioned vocals and counterpoint guitar slashes.
Excitement continued to build as flickering strobe lights accentuated the roaring "Hunting for Witches;" bassist Gordon Moakes was assisted by the audience with the background vocals for "Positive Tension." "Signs," from Intimacy, is a good indicator of the different musical avenues the band is exploring, as Gordon hammered out a twinkling xylophone riff.
The transition from "Song For Clay (Disappear Here)" to breakthrough hit "Banquet" elicited a number of cheers from the audience as crowd surfing broke out in front of the stage. The bass vibrations from "Better Than Heaven" gave the audience a chance to catch their collective breath, setting up the acoustic guitar fueled "Letter To My Son."
Kele Okereke was in top form all night as he used a separate microphone for the heavily processed "Mercury" as Gordon added swells of synthesized saxophones to the jarring jam. "Once & Future King"--a B-side circa sophomore album A Weekend In The City-- blindsided the audience, with Matt Tong fearlessly attacking his drum kit. The crowd was so dialed into Bloc Party that they spontaneously starting clapping to "The Prayer" as Kele couldn't help but smile knowing he had the audience in his back pocket.
I should have expected a four song encore as the crowd was eating up everything Bloc Party had to offer. The assembling of a second drum kit for Gordon signaled the duel pounding rhythms of "Sunday." Kele forewarned the audience that "Flux" was "a banger" and was correct when a swirl of helicopter like synthesizers hovered over the audience.
"Helicopter" was supposed to destroy the audience and end the evening--but the crowd refused to leave. A second encore continued the party as Bloc Party tore into the schizophrenic "Ares." The audience would finally become uncorked during "Like Eating Glass." I started to ponder why Bloc Party didn't play two nights in a row as the crowd couldn't seem to get enough.
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The Blood Arm from Los Angeles opened the evening with their cabaret post punk leaning tunes. Nathaniel Fregoso is their mercurial lead singer who has cribbed stage moves from Iggy Pop and David Bowie with his semi-confrontational attitude towards the audience. "Do I Have Your Attention" was appropriately named as Dyan Valdés used her keyboard abilities to mask the fact they don't have a bass player.
Personal Bias: I thought Bloc Party stole the show at Indie 103.1's Wreck The Halls show at Club Nokia.
Random Detail: Russell Lissack must have had twenty guitar pedals at his feet.
By The Way: The party doesn't stop at the Grove as Lamb of God plays tonight and Sinbad wraps up the week on Friday.