After a major American tour backing Panic! At the Disco in 2006, Bloc Party has returned to our shores. This time, they’re headlining large venues in support of their sophomore album, A Weekend in the City, released this past February. Sunday night was the band’s South Florida stop, at the Pompano Beach Ampitheater.
Miami natives the Jean Marie opened the show promptly at 7:00. The drumming was weak, but that may have been because the band was slotted into the lineup at the last minute, forcing the drummer to play on the Noisettes’ kit instead of his own. The bass player, however, was a standout, not just because of the white painter’s overalls he sported, but also for forming the rhythmic backbone of group.
The Noisettes, Bloc Party’s main tour support, were up next. Sexy English-Zimbabwean frontwoman, Shingai Shoniwa, sported tight black jeans, a pink halter top, and a twelve-inch Mohawk. Shoniwa has a good voice and great stage presence, something like an indie Tina Turner singing punk. She stretched her arms and worked the crowd, switching from mic to bass to mic. Drummer Jamie Morrison really held the songs together, and guitarist Dan Smith's playing got better as the group’s set went on. Maybe it was the Holland-to-Florida jet lag, but the last few songs were better than the first.
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Last up was Bloc Party, a London-based four-piece who play fast-paced, angular dance-rock, and play it seemingly effortlessly. In fact, bassist Gordon Moakes looked almost disinterested. Lead guitarist Russell Lissack didn’t look at anyone, only at the ground, and his emo hair blocked any view of his face. His riffs were daring, but disjointed. Drummer Matt Tong was the exhibitionist. He played shirtless and his British paleness was a stark contrast to the sunburned young audience members who had come to take camera phone pictures for their web pages. Tong was the one to kick-start the songs, redirecting the energy from the fans back at the crowd. Finally, lead singer Kele Okereke’s Nigerian-with-a-London-accent vocals and amped rhythm guitar somehow created the right frenetic balance to spur one college-age girl near the front of the crowd to flash the band, repeatedly.
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But as for the songs, they often didn’t quite gel; it seems that perhaps the band was signed to a major before truly finding their sound. Still, the background vocal loops and drum bridges lend themselves to megahype remixes that fuel both dance floor and media hype. It works in the UK, where the boys of Bloc Party are bona fide pop stars. Let’s see if it gets the band past Atlanta this time. – Kenneth Scott