Bombay Bicycle Club’s Vinyl performance comes off as overproduced

Jack Steadman led Bombay Bicycle Club through a well-attended performance at Vinyl on April 13.
Photo: Corlene Byrd

Las Vegas has a soft spot for trop-rock. I should’ve realized this when I saw Vampire Weekend back in 2010, but given the 30 or so Coachella acts that have played Vegas over the past few weeks (and the not-quite-household-name of Bombay Bicycle Club), I figured Sunday’s Vinyl show would have a less-than-strong turnout—not so.

Apparently when synthesized world beat samples meet formulaic, cinematic synth pop, bands can draw 20-somethings faster than a sale at Urban Outfitters.

On its fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, BBC embraces its namesake with more South Asian themes than we’ve heard on previous records. Lead singer Jack Steadman traveled through India before writing So Long, but the Brit-pop group’s careful use of Bollywood-ish samples (read: not too ethnic) comes off overproduced and inauthentic.

The live show wasn’t too different. Yes, the band was tight and the mix was impressively warm and balanced—enhanced largely by BBC’s drummer and bassist. But BBC’s performance felt largely unthawed—an oddity for a band whose sound says “look how inspired we are.” The quartet employed two additional musicians onstage, yet still relied on backing tracks multiple times, making the two best-known songs of the night—“How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” and “Lights Out, Words Gone”—the most lackluster. The band was at its best when every member was engaged (not hanging out offstage by the amps), and in those moments, the energy level felt explosive and dynamic. Still, I walked away scratching my head. Maybe I’ve just grown tired of musicians whose worldly jaunts too often become another co-opted narrative.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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