Bombay Bicycle Club doesn’t call in sick, prevails


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By Gabriel Jones

Bombay Bicycle Club is normally an electrifying live band. When front man Jack Steadman is suffering from a raging fever, though, the North Londoners are merely a very good live band, as Wednesday’s show at the Fonda Theatre proved.

The band came out and played an explosive and energetic three-song set before Steadman, gamely trying to carry on despite whatever turmoil was going on inside, had to bow out for a spell.

Both your photographer and reviewer, who were also sick, would like whatever was in his magic red cup, however, since after a few minutes offstage he soon rebounded – “It was all the moving about that got to me,” he said – and was only slightly more subdued for the rest of the evening. The band remained musically tight throughout the set, a smart combination of gangly awkwardness and cocky confidence that borrowed equally from Spoon and Interpol in its unabashed revival of melodic jangle-pop, coupled with a world-music element that evoked moments of Vampire Weekend and fellow Londoners Klaxons.

Steadman was contrite throughout, thanking the audience frequently for “bearing with us,” but the energy he maintained under the circumstances more than made up for the pause. And he even promised a free future show in L.A. to make it up to us. Good lads, them.

Philadelphia’s Vacationer opened the evening, playing with the urgent exuberance of Arcade Fire but with understated, mellowed vocals that offered a compelling counterpart between powerful emotion and uncertain reason.

Their sound evokes the innocent early days of ’90s indie rock and comes off like sonic comfort food for the indie set – part Eels, part Avalanches, often with heavy drums and bass that hint at something deep and primal underneath but with artificially calm, slacker vocals that suggest a more rock-oriented Postal Service.

And, like Ben Gibbard’s voice, Kenny Vasoli’s carries a simultaneous vulnerability and audacity that does as fair a job as any of suggesting the way forward for men in rock these days. Yet, in both their echoes of the ’90s and their stage presence, they also come off at times like a newer version of Tonic – indicating that they could equally become the next Death Cab or the next Verve Pipe.