Concert Review: Bombay Bicycle Club
By Aidan Meehan
Bombay Bicycle Club
House of Blues San Diego
When most people hear the terms “indie pop”, or as the British call the genre “twee pop”, images of crooning melodies, melancholy lyrics and a slow gentle performance are evoked. While this may hold true for some of Bombay Bicycle Club’s studio recordings, their live performances are the perfect opposite of the indie pop image. Both times I have seen Bombay have out-classed even the most high energy shows in terms of stage presence and crowd participation. During the group’s hits “Always Like This” and “Beg” even the venue security joined in song.
Bombay Bicycle Club hails from north London and is currently on the west coast leg of their U.S. tour in support of their 2011 release A Different Kind of Fix. The main singles off Fix, ‘Beg’ and ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’, are now staples of Bombay’s current setlist. Debut album I Had The Blues, But I Shook Them Loose and sophomore acoustic release Flaws also spawned numerous singles, charting as high as 56 on the UK Singles. Bombay’s recent success in the UK indie scene led them to embark on their U.S. Tour, playing small venues and connecting with the American audience. After seeing Bombay at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver in August earlier on the tour, I knew that I had to see another show eventually, and jumped at the chance to go to House of Blues.
Walking into the venue, opener Vacationer had just begun their set of spacey indie/psych rock to a slightly unenthused crowd. Vacationer’s lead single “Trip” was accompanied by a projector displaying psychedelic visuals and oceanic scenes. The combination of the venue ambience, laid back lyrics and the visuals recalled a dreamy day on the California shore. The group did an excellent job of bringing up the energy by the end of their set, despite the crowd’s early reluctance to loosen up. I suggest listening to some of Vacationer’s tracks on YouTube if you are looking for some solid beach music.
After a quick break to change stage set up’s, Bombay entered to a roar from the audience. Opening with ‘Beg’ and ‘How Can You Swallow…’ got the audience excited enough to take a pause and introduce the band. After playing a few tracks off of I Had The Blues… the group waxed acoustic and brought out acoustic guitars and strangely enough, a banjo. Lead singer Jack Steadman then politely asked the audience “how would you like to turn this show into a hoedown” and broke out in acoustic hits ‘Ivy & Gold’ and ‘Rinse Me Down’ at a speed far beyond that of the studio recording. The audience danced in true ‘hoedown’ style as the British performers took on a Country-Western air. Other hits ‘Evening/Morning’ and Cancel On Me excited the audience even further, with the whole venue singing and shouting along to the tracks. After closing with ‘Always Like This’ the group went off stage for barely a second before the crowd demanded an encore. Bombay did not disappoint, performing ‘Shuffle’, unreleased head-banger ‘Carry On’ and the high energy punk influenced closer ‘What If’.
After the show, front man Jack Steadman, background vocalist Lucy Rose, and bassist Ed Nash came out to visit with the audience, signing tickets and answering questions. I took the time to ask them a few brief questions. Jack offered a bit of insight on the unreleased tracks, stating that the group is recording in El Paso, Texas, after the tour, and they have most of a record written and arranged, with a hopeful release in the spring. Lucy Rose spoke about her favorite stops on the tour, saying that besides San Diego, her favorite American city was New Orleans because of the vibrant music scene and unique ambience.
After my quick chat with some of the group members, I left the show feeling both energized and refreshed. I highly recommend any of Bombay’s three records to any indie music fan, their song writing is unique, emotive and fun. If you get a chance to see them in the near future, I suggest it to everyone, Bombay Bicycle Club puts on a performance unlike most other groups in the genre that is high-energy and eclectic.