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.
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.) Haim–dream girls from a few SNLs ago–were all about supporting their brethren in percussion-happy pop.
@BASTILLEdan BREAK A LEG ON SNL!!!!!! SENDING YOU LOOOOVE!!
— HAIM (@HAIMtheband) January 25, 2014
Still not entirely sure what this means but yes.
Bastille is what would happen if a Visa debit card became a band
— Bridger Winegar (@bridger_w) January 26, 2014
We do not disagree. (“Oblivion” and “The Scientist” are close cousins in the tortured ballad family, too.)
Bastille seems like a band that was 13 yrs old when A Rush of Blood to the Head came out and they decided to start a band the next day.
— Mike Katzif (@mikekatzif) January 26, 2014
i like bastille a lot and they sound better than the last 10 bands ive seen on snl
— ⟡ Shani O. Hilton ⟡ (@shani_o) January 26, 2014
Daniel Radcliffe is one of the backup singers of Bastille
— Kevin Rutherford (@surfwax83) January 26, 2014
Bet they’ll be huge on Grey’s Anatomy, too.
— Thierry (@tcote) January 26, 2014
Same but where’s Javert tho.
Of all the bands named for fortresses where French prisoners were kept in the 18th century, Bastille is my favorite.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 26, 2014
But did he use vegan hair products?
Watching Bastille on SNL and really wanting to call the lead singer out on his Morrissey hair.
— Spritzy (@lapinschantants) January 26, 2014
SERIOUSLY HER DAD IS COUNTING TO TEN DAN COME ON
Hey Bastille singer, loved your SNL performance, but next time ask my dad before you steal his sweater for your fashion projects. @nbcsnl
— Kate Carey (@kleecarey) January 26, 2014
Op, wait, can you hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand bajillion fan fics being born.
Bastille played oblivion on snl and dan held leo dicaprios hand I cannottt
— // amers // (@amy_johnsterr) January 26, 2014
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