12/12/12 was undoubtedly not your average Wednesday night. The sold out crowd at Emo’s filled the venue with chatter in anticipation of the headlining act. Before this show, Bloc Party had not been in Austin since 2009 (the same year that band went on hiatus) and it was obvious they had been greatly missed. Opening for Bloc Party was The Chevin, an English alternative rock band.
Having made their American debut at South by Southwest last year, The Chevin’s performance at Emo’s went above the newbie status that they have been labeled with. These childhood best friends have a sound that is so put together, it’s hard to believe that they’ve only been together for two years. Lead singer Coyle Girelli’s voice has some characteristics that brings The Killers’ 2004 album Hot Fuss back into your mind.
The Chevin made their way onstage and jumped right into the music. They played two tracks back-to-back from their debut album, Borderland, before greeting the audience. “Gospel” and “Colours” got the crowd’s attention right off the bat and the talking came to a halt. Although people weren’t as familiar with the band as they were with Bloc Party, The Chevin kept everyone’s attention throughout their eight-song set.
“Love Is Just a Game” was a track that stood out from the rest because of Girelli’s haunting voice throughout the chorus and keyboardist/guitarist Mat Steel’s serene piano introduction. As they played “Blue Eyes,” the sixth song in their set, Girelli danced around as he urged the crowd to sing along with his “way-o.” Steel and bassist Jon Langford did backup vocals for Girelli which only made their performance that much stronger. The Chevin’s lyrics are simple but their melodious sound is what makes them stand out. They ended the show with their first major label single “Drive,” a song whose chorus can only be described as trilling. As the band exited the stage, drummer Mal Taylor snapped an Instagram photo of the crowd and waved goodbye.
After a 40-minute wait between sets, the lights lowered and the stage lights burned a bright blue straight into the faces of fans that have loved them since Silent Alarms. The band—which includes lead singer/guitarist Kele Okereke, lead guitarist Russell Lissack, bassist/backup vocalist Gordon Moakes and bare-chested, jorts-wearing drummer/backup vocalist Matt Tong—made its way onstage and was greeted by a wild crowd. Okereke had a grin on his face that assured the crowd that the next hour would be a blast.
Bloc Party opened up their 18-song set with the opening track from their new album, Four. Okereke greeted the crowd after the first song and kept up conversation throughout the entire set. His confidence with his fans was apparent and it kept the audience engaged. It was obvious the crowd was more into the throwback songs when the band started their third song “Positive Tension.” Everyone sang along to the cheeky lyrics that most used to sing in their teenage years when Bloc Party surfaced in the music scene. This track stands out for Tong’s captivating drumming and Okereke’s spoken lyrics.
As Okereke introduced the next song as a true story, he said, “someone is smoking marijuana in here. Can I have some?” The crowd laughed in unison, as the band began to play “Team A” from their most recent album. I think it’s safe to say that the show’s ultimate climax was when the band played fan-favorite “Banquet.” Along with a melodic chorus came shredding guitar action and powerful vocals. As the crowd subdued, Okereke took a gulp from his flask and dedicated the next song, “Coliseum,” to those who came from far to see them.
“I must say it’s quite strange being back here in Austin,” Okreke said. “It’s always been at SXSW. Nice seeing the city slightly more subdued. This was one of the first places we visited when we came to the U.S.”
Along with the kind words came a few more songs that never really slowed down. Bloc Party wrapped up “Octupus” and walked off the stage. Of course, the crowd began to chant the band’s name and within a few minutes, Bloc Party was back for “round two” as Okereke shouted into the microphone. The band played four songs: two from their 2007 album A Weekend In The City and one each from Silent Alarm and Four. After they played the intro to Rihanna’s “We Found Love ft. Calvin Harris,” they closed up their encore with “Flux.”
Much to the crowd’s excitement, the band came out for a second encore to finish off what had already been a badass show. Okereke had that grin on his face again as Tong began drumming to “Helicopter.” Bloc Partyers jumped up and down as they screamed the lyrics to the front. This time, the goodbyes were for real and Tong threw three drumsticks out to the audience.
As they left the building, fans had sweaty faces that showed satisfaction. They played some new, they played some old, but regardless what year they wrote the song, there was never a dull moment. Both bands pointed out that this was the last show of their North American tour and it was obvious that they went out with a bang.