If you were to ask the general public what criteria defines a great rock show, you would probably get a multitude of answers. I can safely say that no matter what your answer might be I’m pretty sure I got it on Monday night.
Bloc Party came to the islands and opened Oahu’s newest concert venue, The Republik, in a fitting way. The unfinished nature of the building, the lack of a box office, the proximity to the speakers, and the spilling of a poor girls beverage(which I’ll discuss later) while immersed in sound. These all contributed to one of those nights where you noticed the faults, but didn’t care. It had that underground(second floor building) “just between us” kinda vibe to it all.
Speaking from experience, whenever your night opens up with drinking at a rooftop bar during happy hour and ends with a late night stop at a Zippy’s(The Hawaiian equivalent of Denny’s/IHOP for those of you mainlanders), then you have probably thoroughly enjoyed yourself. This format is bound to have success 87% of the time, and that is a fact, I’m sure of it. Just don’t quote me on it.
Setting out from the Ala Moana Shopping Center, The Republik sits nestled in between two buildings just a short walk away. About two blocks to be more precise. If definitely doesn’t look like much on the outside, but for a venue, that is hardly relevant. The important stuff all happens inside, as it should.
This story is not complete without telling you about how it was almost a bummer for my friend Reggie. Being the procrastinator that he is, he decided to wait until the last minute to purchase his tickets. I bet you can guess what happened eh? Of course they sold out a day before. So he came anyway to see if he could find a scalper. It looked quite grim as we arrived and it was decided that poor Reggie would be left outside. After bidding farewell to him I assumed he was out of luck. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to turn around about 30 minutes later and see him with a drink and a grin. Sometimes fortune favors the foolish.
Avoiding any further complications, the show began. Not knowing who the opening band was, I was immediately impressed with The Jump Offs. They had a good polished sound with hints of Blur and The Temper Trap. Their set had a good variety of compositions and tempo. I was surprised after meeting a couple of the members after the show that they have been working on their album for two years. It’s too bad they didn’t have their merch table setup, I would have picked up a copy. Though, if you are curious, you can hear a preview of one of their songs here.
After such a talented opening band I knew I was in for a treat with Bloc Party. You know, you just have those types of feelings about certain shows. It is like you can tell how good or bad the whole show will be by a few key moments.
So now comes our main act, the moment in which we have been building up to. Bloc Party. Being that this band’s status as a functioning group has been in question and still is, this show was very important. After their last album, they were kinda defunct, and with this album they have made similar comments about it perhaps being the end, again. The band members have some tumultuous relationships apparently. So for them to come to Hawaii was a big deal in my mind. We may never see Bloc Party perform again after this tour.
When they hit the stage I could tell they were in good spirits. The show kicked off in a high gear with lots of energy. I think a band knowing they are “breaking the cherry” of a venue feels some sort of obligation to rock out even harder. Contributing to that essential rock show vibe was perhaps my extremely close distance to the speaker cabinets in which my ears were being pounded mercilessly by a thumping bass. This might seem like a deterrent to enjoyment for some, but on this night it gave it that extra edge. Now I’m not saying we should all go stand by massive speakers at every show. That’s a good way to go deaf if you don’t bring earplugs. It’s just that sometimes even when it seems like it will be a bother initially, it may actually bring up the intensity level.
Powering through a setlist that had their hits sprinkled throughout, the band kept reminding us of their aggression. As they said themselves, some of their songs are about fighting and getting worked up. In provoking the audience with these anecdotes I believe they got their desired response. I looked around at the crowd numerous times and saw a distinctively different atmosphere to my previous concert experiences in Hawaii. Bloc Party’s blend of a raw dance punk definitely helped set this crowd apart and get them riled up.
Towards the end of the main set, I believe during Helicopter, I probably got a bit too carried away. During my dance fueled rage I failed to notice the petite little girl start to creep up into the guardrail area where I was rocking out with extreme prejudice. Needless to say at a particularly intense part of the song my arms lost control of themselves and I brought them down for a moment, only to find that I knocked the drink right out of her hands. Now, this is perhaps partially her fault for encroaching into the front of the crowd like that, but I still apologized profusely for about 10 seconds. Then I went back to being a mad man. I noticed she kept a better distance from people after that. Anyway, little Asian girl, I’m sorry about your drink. I owe you probably like six bucks. If you ever read this, feel free to remind me.
After exiting the stage for a quick breather, they returned to finish us off with the encore. Kicking it into overdrive the band announced “Because we didn’t know you, we took it easy on you. The first half of the set was a warmup, the second half, we go harder.” or something to that effect. The encore was intense, especially the way they led into “Flux”, one of my favorite songs. I think it is safe to assume I went dance happy with that one. After the four song encore we parted ways with Bloc Party. Bidding farewells while the ringing in our ears became louder.
Despite not having the full range of my hearing afterward, I was deeply satisfied with my experience. It had been a while since I had concert like that. You know, one where I had really known I was at a ROCK…SHOW. Maybe it was the incomplete state of the venue, the hastily assembled security teams, and the smell of fresh paint in the bathrooms that made it all feel new again. Maybe it was just the raw nature in which the music was delivered through giant speakers three feet away. Maybe it was the company with me. I don’t know, but whatever it was, it was good. Oh yeah, and the chicken katsu at Zippys was good too.
By the way, here is the setlist.
\mm/ – too much metal for one hand!