Playing it safe, or staying grounded?

Everybody likes Bloc Party. That is, everybody thinks they like Bloc Party. They’re small for a big band – low-key, discrete: a group of nice, smiley, wholly inoffensive boys playing good-vibe indie rock. Everyone’s heard the name and everyone digs ‘Banquet’, without necessarily knowing the two are linked. They’re in a pretty snug spot. But few people love Bloc Party; people don't tend to stalk their tour bus or write lyrics in their diary or throw pants at them. They sit politely in the festival line-up but rarely headline, and crowds will happily watch them while waiting on The Killers.

Earls Court is a big deal. There are three sets of security to get through and that’s not including the dogs, who can smell a net of Babybels from up to ten metres away, prompting two doormen to rigorously search your pockets. Apparently. The enormous black curtains that separate the bars and merch stands from the stage see people drifting in and out – never rushing or pushing, mind. Still, there’s a smattering of girls on shoulders, and once you’ve lost your friends, you’ll never find them again. In the thick of it, bodies are so densely packed, people spark up and no one can do much about it.

The band play a great set. They look so tiny onstage, the huge crowd looks like it could swallow them up in a big sweaty fan vortex. But the foursome are unfazed, and note-perfect. ‘This Modern Love’ goes down well, and the trademark lasers and coloured rings that garnish the set add pep to the tuneful melodies. The bespeckled shirtless drummer (Matt Tong) gets his share of wolf whistles.

Bloc Party are fairly decent. No, they’re not risk takers, but perhaps it’s their very ambiguity, their non-bar-raising approach to music that’s made them this steadfast, everyman band. Perhaps playing it safe is just a synonym for staying grounded; and perhaps that’s what’s saved them from becoming just another wanky stadium band who encore with a Stones cover and wear sunglasses indoors.


Words by Mia Bleach

Photos by Anna Kroeger


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