Last Tuesday, the 17th of September, Bloc Party and Cults took to the stage for a packed crowd at Franklin Music Hall in Philly. The show was engaging from start to finish, especially during Bloc Party’s set when they played every song from Silent Alarm, which is easily one of the best albums of this century. The only issue with this show is that there were some mixing problems which made it difficult to hear the guitars above the low end. Regardless, Cults and Bloc Party still made this a night to remember for both themselves and the audience.
Manhattan based outfit Cults opened the show for Bloc Party. In the nine years that they have been together, Cults have made two fantastic records and several singles after that showing a clear progression in their sound. Cults’ music has a dreamy aesthetic and an emphasis on texture. On the spectrum of “indie,” they are somewhere between Tame Impala and Beach House; Cults uses plenty of synthesizers, prominent bass, and higher register vocals. All these elements allowed for a versatile performance as they powered through ballads just as well as their more danceable songs. Drummer Cory Steir had everything to do with ensuring their seamless transition from one style to another. Steir wavered between a simple and intricate approach throughout the show, doing so at just the right times. This, as well as all of the other aspects of the group, made their performance very enjoyable.
Soon after, Kele Okereke and the other members of Bloc Party walked onstage to thunderous applause. Interestingly, they played Silent Alarm backwards. In retrospect, this was a great decision as it allowed for anticipation to build for the first three songs on the album. Besides, albums usually lead from the front whereas concert setlists usually place the singles at the tail end or sprinkled throughout so this was a welcome adaptation. Although this album was released almost fifteen years ago, the music sounds just as fresh and cutting edge as it did back then. I’m convinced that if it were released today, it would receive the same fantastic reception that it did upon its release; the blend of new wave with contemporary alternative sounds and a penchant for rhythm make Silent Alarm a timeless masterpiece. Along with that, the band’s vigor really shined through in their performance of these tracks, making them all more anthemic. Still, they were so tight, which they very much needed to be. Silent Alarm is deceptively complex, especially in terms of rhythm. The record includes dueling guitars along with irregular pauses and rhythms, not to mention the many nuances and fervent pace of most tracks. Bloc Party also played a short encore which included their song “Ratchet” which appeared on the FIFA 14 soundtrack. Bloc Party’s drummer, Louise Bartle, also did a fantastic job; even just keeping up with “Banquet” and “Helicopter” is a daunting task for capable drummers but Bartle played the entire set with amazing confidence while also providing backing vocals. If you can get out to see Bloc Party and Cults, I would highly recommend doing so.