The social contract between musicians, audience and venues is a strange one. All parties agree to endure discomfort for a few hours in exchange for catharsis or enrichment (monetary or otherwise). If everything goes well, the bonding over shared deprivations (oxygen, hearing, shoes shed in moshpits) is part of the reward of deliverance.
Tuesday night's sold-out Bloc Party concert at Fort Lauderdale's Revolution nightclub was one of those nights. You could see the satisfaction in the giant smile singer Kele Okereke wore most of the night, in the bodies of fans lifted up from the packed floor to be carried over the crowd like offerings, and in the muscled determination of the bouncers who brought the bodysurfers safely to the ground and poured water in overheated fans' mouths.
Bloc Party has carefully studied the Coldplay playbook, also following in the path of such British acts as U2, the Cure, and Oasis by delivering stirring anthems with ringing guitar overtones.Bloc Party members mentioned several times that it was the English alt-rock quartet's first show in the states in seven months, during which time they've been recording the follow-up to their acclaimed '05 debut, Silent Alarm. The Revolution show, the band's first in Florida, was the initial in a small number of gigs it's doing on its way to playing this weekend's Coachella festival in California.
Okereke often sings about alienation and angst -- ''It's so cold in this house'' -- but in a comforting way: ''I figured it out,'' he assures. The handsome singer in casual clothes is the onstage focal point, but guitarist Russell Lissack (who wore a T-shirt saying ''Anyone can play guitar'' Tuesday) is the band's not-so-secret ingredient. Judging by the fervor of the 2,000 fans at Revolution, Bloc Party has struck a chord with young adults just beginning to navigate an often heartless world.
They unveiled at least one new track Tuesday. It left open the question whether Bloc Party can turn its signature sound into something extraordinary. From the Lollapalooza-style moshpit to the echoey, atmospheric sound, there was a decidedly retro feel to the Revolution show. It reminded not so much of the postpunk bands to which Bloc Party is often compared -- Gang of Four, Joy Division -- but of the more radio-friendly sound of '80s new wave. Unlike grumpy snobby indie bands, Bloc Party is embracing fame. Evelyn McDonnell is The Miami Herald's pop music critic.
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