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Bloc Party @ House of Blues

Bloc Party
Where: House of Blues
When: July 30th, 2016
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Justin Tucker

Lollapalooza is an interesting time in Chicago. Each year in the summer heat, one of rock’s biggest festivals descends upon the city and becomes the center of the music world for a few days. Some Chicagoans prefer to stay in all weekend, desperately avoiding the traffic and commotion. Others, along with the many folks in from out of town, dive head first into the festivities.

For someone like myself, I feel extremely out of touch with that festival culture I used to partake in as a youngster. Now in my thirties — an old fart in festival-going years as far as I’m concerned — I don’t have much patience for standing in the hot heat around thousands of intoxicated youths and spending a week’s pay on food, drinks and merch.

The good thing about the festival’s official aftershows is that you can see an artist in the intimacy of a club away from the heat. Those preconditions all made me want to take the opportunity to see Bloc Party at the House of Blues. Going in, I was only really familiar with their first album Silent Alarm, and with no huge indie fan in my bubble that still listens to them, I just assumed no one really listened to them anymore. I was surprised to learn, however, that Bloc Party fans do exist and couldn't help but admire their stamina, since many had been partying all day before coming to the aftershow.

The opening act was the New York-based VHS Collection, an uninteresting, easily forgettable synth group from New York. Fans of this music may find them enjoyable, but I couldn’t tell if they were serious or not. If these guys go on to change the face of music in the future, which won’t happen, I will certainly vow to eat a crow in the unlikely event that happens.

Bloc Party, however, started off fiercely to an eager crowd who immediately began to sing and dance along. They kept the bodies moving, knowing well that dance music is always in demand and kept it flowing throughout the show. Frontman Kele Okereke was a dynamic and commanding stage presence the entire set, changing between guitar, keys or just himself at the mic with ease. The only lull was his masturbatory anti-Trump statements that seemed unwarranted considering he was preaching to the choir. 

The fans were definitely satisfied with their performance, never letting up despite the fact the show lasted until the wee hours. The camaraderie of the crowd probably impressed me the most. Usually I would be annoyed when a drunken stranger would put an arm around me, but at this particular show, I felt welcome when a fan did that in a way that invited me to join the party. I did and had a great time, even though it was past my bedtime.

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