Didn’t Even Need the Smoke Machine: A Review of Bombay Bicycle Club @ The Fillmore


A lot of bands claim that The Fillmore is their favorite venue, but for some reason the fact that Bombay Bicycle Club made this proclamation, after wishing everyone a “happy 420,” caused an already euphoric crowd to erupt in what can only be described as sheer ecstasy.

Bombay Bicycle Club played the Fillmore on Sunday, which just so happened to be April 20th — a sacred day here in San Francisco — and could not have shattered every single expectation I had more.

The fact that not one of the band members is over 24 years old alone is mind blowing, but the stage presence this band has is even more incredible. At times, the sound was so tight, so loud, and so intense it was hard to breathe. All the air was pulled out of the room, forcing you to look right at the stage in complete awe. They’re the kind of band that, even if they were terrible live (which they were not), it wouldn’t matter because every one of their songs is so on point that it sounds good regardless. Literally, these guys could be playing a fucking kazoo ballad and it would still sound glorious.

The band opened up with a ripping “Overdone” to quickly kick things into high gear, followed by some crowd pleasers like “It’s Alright Now” and “Come To.” Paired with a stellar and perfectly timed light show, not to mention some fantastically appropriate background visuals, the band delivered a massive sound the entire night and played the majority of their new album So Long, See You Tomorrow¬†throughout their one set show. The band’s sound was a mixture of guitars with a heavy dose of reverb, keys and wild low-end synth, and pounding drums that teetered somewhere on the edge of traditional, techno-eque 32nd notes, and floor-tom driven tribal dance beats.

The band also hit some older (and personal) favorites, like “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” and “Shuffle,” with an incredible balanced energy that was through the roof, but also calm when needed. You can check out the whole set list here.

A definite highlight was the final encore playing “Carry Me.” The sheer magnitude of this song translated so well to a live setting and had the entire crowd going bananas. Another bright moment was on “Home By Now” where guest vocalist Hazel Yule gracefully filled former band-mate Lucy Rose’s shoes, which is not an easy feat, with a smooth, almost falsetto tone. As with “Carry Me,” “Home By Now,” a melodic duet between Yule and frontman Jack Steadman, had a very similar feel to the studio version — drawing out emotion from the listener, whether it was longing, gratefulness, fulfillment, or something completely unrecognizable. Regardless of the emotion this song evokes, you’re left standing completely vulnerable and ridiculously impressed.

All in all, it’s hard to ask for much more in a live show, firing on all cylinders both in the studio and on stage. Bombay Bicycle Club is an absolute must see if they’re in your town. This is the kind of music that makes youth just up and revolt. Or maybe just up and dance.