If you’ve been paying attention to any of the many interviews Bastille frontman Dan Smith has given in the past year, you’ll know the band’s upcoming third album ‘Doom Days’ is an “apocalyptic party record” that draws the curtains on all the bad shit in the world. Las Vegas is an exaggerated, extreme version of that setting – somewhere you can forget about real life and block everything out with tacky glitz, excess, and hedonism. Even the city’s slogan encourages you to go into full-on party mode. Whatever happens here stays here, after all.
Bastille might not play a ton of songs from their new record, but there’s something about that spirit that still applies to their set at Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful tonight (September 23). From the space in front of the Downtown Stage, you can see the Ogden condo complex, where the man responsible for massacring innocent festival-goers at last year’s Route 91 Harvest Festival had a room booked during 2017’s edition of Life Is Beautiful but never showed up. There’s a defiance to returning to the spot to party that Dan’s description of ‘Doom Days’ shares; a refusal to let the fucked up parts of humanity overpower the fun parts.
There are plenty of fun parts to be had in Bastille’s performance tonight. Opener ‘Good Grief’ provides an immediate rush, while the beginning buzzsaw riff of ‘Blame’ sounds gigantic blaring out of the main stage PA. ‘Flaws’ sees Dan do his now-traditional sojourn into the crowd, running between the barriers and along the front, at one point carrying a fan’s rainbow flag with him.
Before ‘The Currents’, the frontman briefly brings his out of our escapist space. “This next song is about fuckheads who abuse the platforms they have to spread hate,” he explains before giving an eloquent caveat. “So fuck you to them.” Minutes later, he apologises – not to the aforementioned “fuckheads”, but to the crowd. “No one comes to a music festival to think about twats,” he says, jumping back into the party zone with the band’s ‘Of The Night’ mash-up, conducting the audience to euphoric highs.
There are only three “new” songs in Bastille’s set tonight, including the “really depressing” ‘World Gone Mad’, and Marshmello collaboration ‘Happier’. The only confirmed ‘Doom Days’ track comes in the form of a dazzling ‘Quarter Past Midnight’ that, with its lines about “good times, bad decisions“, feels like an appropriate almost-goodbye ahead of sending everyone off into the city that’s built on those two tenets.
Before it’s quite time to do that, there’s the small matter of ‘Pompeii’, the group’s epic closer which they start with a slow piano intro as keyboardist Kyle Simmons paces the front of the stage, geeing up the crowd one last time. “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” Dan asks in the chorus. Tonight, the answer is clearly by dancing through the darkness.
‘World Gone Mad’
‘Send Them Off!’
‘Of The Night’
‘Quarter Past Midnight’