Bastille on SNL: Uncomfortable

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There's only one word that can sum up Bastille's Saturday Night Live debut, and it's "uncomfortable."

Here's the thing: Bastille, like fun., is a band that banks on the enthusiasm of a crowd to propel them through the high point of their performance. Their most lauded singles are sugary, uplifting anthems with nary a minor chord between them that consist of more vowel-heavy utterances than actual words of significance, and these hits--fun.'s "Some Nights;" Bastille's "Pompeii"--require audience participation in a live setting just as badly as they need Autotune in the studio. The hand claps and "AYYYY AY OH AY OH"-es drown out the mistakes and rev up the band, especially if frontman Dan Smith runs out of breath in the middle of a line. When Smith lifts a singular drumstick before pounding the tom to his left, he conducts the euphoric hysteria of the crowd before him, and the drumstick doesn't look totally ridiculous and out of place when thousands of people fall all over themselves in anticipation of him beating something with it.

See also: "OMG Her Face!": America Reacts to Haim's SNL Performance

Take the crowd and their participation out of the equation and you've got a bunch of young dudes bouncing around a stage trying to hype up a room full of ghosts. And that's exactly why Bastille's SNL performance was an uncomfortable one, because they weren't in their element, and they suffered for it.

That pins the tail on the can't-look-away quality of "Pompeii," anyway. "Oblivion," thankfully, showcased Smith's voice and musical prowess without the distraction of his awkward and erratic drumstick-wielding tendencies. The polar opposite of "Pompeii"'s call to party, the sad and slow "Oblivion" requires less chaos and more contemplation, and Bastille's ability to bring it down doesn't rely on the gargantuan stadium setting and the crowd it supplies in the same way "Pompeii" does. The effects are the same on the SNL stage as they would be at Wembley, and we're left thinking about what we just heard, not scratching our heads over what frenzied take on synth pop we just witnessed.

(Sitting through "Pompeii," no matter how awkward it comes across on a tiny sound stage, is still leaps and bounds better than "Some Nights" in any setting. That's our official position.)

How'd everyone else feel? The jury's still out, though Smith's gravity-defying 'do raked in a few more compliments than "Pompeii" did. (If you consider a Robin Thicke comparison a compliment, anyway.)


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52 comments
warpaint
warpaint

i just watched the rerun of this sat night live episode, and i thought Bastille was great! i also didn't mind the slight "out of breath-ness" at one point. it just reassured me they were not lip synching as many do while performing on sat night live!

maudrey333
maudrey333

Hilary, I don't think you understand what you're talking about.  You must be old, and bitter about your dwindling youth to hate on a young upcoming band like Bastille.  They are talent, excellent writing if you would actually take in the words, music is about expressing yourself, you have an opinion, a pessimistic one, that is helping no one.  We don't want to hear your hate and the negative opinions you have to offer.  Look up some of their music and maybe listen to it.  I'd like to see you try performing live.  think twice before you post something this hell blazed, you don't know what it is like to be up onstage performing to people who don't know you or you're music.  I wasn't there but judging by the video, it was a solid performance. Piss off to someone else, not a group that is storming the charts and doesn't deserve you're worthless, filthy negativity.

mchastain
mchastain

Comparing Bastille to fun. is like comparing a Van Gogh to a picture my 4-year old drew. This article made me uncomfortable.....I think I'll go watch Bastille's SNL performance to make myself feel better. 

liz4619
liz4619

Downloaded the album because of the "sad and slow 'Oblivion'", which even amongst all of the other great songs ended up being my favorite.  I still have the entire album on repeat, so apparently they did something right during this performance. I mostly appreciate that they didn't try to "Americanize" their accents like most other British imports. 

lynerd_skynerd
lynerd_skynerd

"Snow Patrol cover band"? Seriously? Have you even listened to their music besides the songs they played on SNL? Probably not. Judging them before really listening to them...Typical.

dasce0304
dasce0304

This blog post left me feeling uncomfortable. Bastille was a breath of fresh air and they rocked it. Period!

KTTK
KTTK

"just as badly as they need Autotune in the studio"
PLEASE. They literally sound the same live as they do on the album. They're one of many few bands you won't see autotuned (not sure if they exist in America). And people who are saying they're just a coldplay cover band or anything like that obviously doesn't know about music and wouldn't know GOOD music if it hit them in the face. 

As a Journalism student I actually find this article quite atrocious with how things were worded and what was actually typed. It is in no way a critical review of the performance and more a piece made to slag out the band and the lead singer's talent. I really hate when 'Journalists' writing mostly music articles seem to forget everything they learnt in Journalism 101 and write whatever they want to their hearts content. It always seems like it's okay for a music article to be written poorly, be totally biased and opinionated and still make it to print or online and this article just proves that.

Sean Nichols
Sean Nichols

I just wanna know how the lead singer got that loaf of bread to stay on his head the whole time...

Ashok Bhalla
Ashok Bhalla

Comparing Bastille to Coldplay is hysterical. No, not even close in terms of style/sound. Bashing this band, regardless of how good or bad their performance was, is pointless. What would you prefer? Bieber? N word please.

Adam Abramowitz
Adam Abramowitz

Probably the same way that every other bullshit top 40 band got booked...

dianarvizu
dianarvizu

@BastilleMexico "just as badly as they need Autotune in the studio" loI. I didn't think someone could've disliked it. It was perfect.

Martha Hicks Leta
Martha Hicks Leta

I thought they were really solid. REALLY, solid. However, I'd take SNL to task for Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus's performances, which were both awful.

Darryl Baker
Darryl Baker

I don't like a lot of the new music these days, but this was good writing and a not-too-shabby performance by a band I never heard of before this post. I've seen much worse and I'm not sure what the writer was hoping to get from the performance to make it more "comfortable". The in-house crowd seemed to like it quite a bit, judging by their reaction.

Tammy McJannet
Tammy McJannet

I thought they were great. I don't know what the blogger heard, but it was obviously not the same thing I did. Never heard of them before, but I'm definitely a fan now.

John DeBaun
John DeBaun

Another asshole band beating a bass drum , like Imagine Dragons, and they suck too! Would like to beat them both senseless with that stick !

Tim Cantwell
Tim Cantwell

New music = toilet. Rock needs another happening like grunge to push it off its axis....

Paul Frolov
Paul Frolov

Um... by having a Top 10 hit on US Billboard Hot 100.

Carl Biancucci
Carl Biancucci

Good question. I know I'm getting old and all,but who the f*** are half the bands booked on that show?And why do they blow????? Last band I liked were old guys (McCartney w Nirvana)

tonydodge
tonydodge

having no comparison to them performing live, i had fun watching them. and they were more successful than some other groups that have been on SNL. 

Adam Cohen
Adam Cohen

Thought it was a good performance and don't forget SNL wasn't always just the top band but also to showcase up and coming talent.

Sue Bryan
Sue Bryan

Why are the voice fb posts always negative?

Tim Cox
Tim Cox

Remember when the Voice used to be cool? Another bitter article.

Jane Kelly
Jane Kelly

Awful, but so was the show with the exception of the hilarious as usual Weekend Update

Franco Franus
Franco Franus

: i thought this might be an in-depth look at the politics behind how lesser-known acts might get booked on a major show like Saturday Night Live but was disappointed to find it was just someone whining about a new artist's performance.

lowry99
lowry99

the Visa Debit Card joke is great, it does sound like the weirdly "spiritual" "stirring" music they play in the background of those commercials

Sanfrankfurter
Sanfrankfurter

I'm struggling to see your point as I watch these videos. I think these night be some of the more imaginative performances on SNL of late rather than uncomfortable ones. Who booked Bastille? Someone with good taste. And now a more general public will latch on because their performance was pretty dang solid and true to their sound. I'm pleased to hear that his voice is so great live. What's your real beef with them?

Mary Chang
Mary Chang

How the hell did they get booked? They're huge in Britain and their debut album debuted at #1 on the UK Albums chart. They've sold out clubs here in the U.S. Whoever's booking the bands for SNL is watching trends.

BastilleMexico
BastilleMexico

@dianarvizu I believe he was in his right to dislike it, but I think the way he reviewed their performance was very rude

woodcider
woodcider

This is my first time hearing them as well, and for SNL that was a damn fine performance.

I'm just as snarky as the next person, but this just seemed uncalled for and mean.

HilaryHughes
HilaryHughes

@Sanfrankfurter I think I was pretty clear that the setting didn't do them justice, and that they're a band that does exceptionally well in an arena that can respond to their pop anthems in a way that completes the performance. The small sound stage at SNL didn't do them any favors, in my opinion, and it showed in a pretty contained, awkward performance. (I also threw quite a few compliments their way for "Oblivion" above.)

renzanity
renzanity

@BastilleMexico @dianarvizu  It was a woman who reviewed it and you're right, she's got no home training.

dianarvizu
dianarvizu

@BastilleMexico it was basically bad comparisons and stating (not suggesting) that Dan can't sing. anywaaay.. I'm over it :p

dianarvizu
dianarvizu

@BastilleMexico Yeah I mean, everyone is entitled to an opinion but the way that article was worded was in no way a critical review.

renzanity
renzanity

@HilaryHughes @Sanfrankfurter  Oh sweetie, no.  Those are called backhanded compliments what with all the other trash you said about them.  They are not legitimate compliments and I'm sure they don't need your "compliments" with their millions of dollars' worth of record sales.  

Sanfrankfurter
Sanfrankfurter

@HilaryHughes MY real beef might be with your social media team. when i take a step back at your article, i think you're right-- it's the type of band that benefits from a giant audience. this televised performance will likely grant them that audience soon, let's hope! your social media team, however, with its facebook lead in of "who the hell booked these guys?" should be slapped on the wrist (and possibly congratulated) for the link bait. they got me to click on a non-grammy music link. kudos. 

again, i do think that the band rang true to itself in these performances! here's hoping we can see them headline MSG or barclays in the near future.

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