Bloc Party: Anger with a purpose

By Carole Giambalvo
Published May 25, 2007

British band Bloc Party is a little tense. Reflecting on terrorism, racism, drug use and death in its new album, A Weekend in the City, the band has made its frustrations with the world known.

But man, do they want you to dance to it. "Lord give me grace and dancing feet, " they implore.

The Londoners bring their frenzied guitars and sleek beats to Jannus Landing in St. Pete on Monday. The concert was originally scheduled for the USF Sun Dome in Tampa but got relocated to the smaller, outdoor venue.

Jokingly labeled as "crunk-like, " Bloc Party aims high to get listeners moving, in spite of some heavy-hitting lyrics.

"There's a certain economy to the drum parts that lends itself to dancing, " said drummer Matt Tong. "Plus there's a lot of tension between us as musicians when we play and that lends a lot of energy to the songs."

But weighty lyrics like "MTV taught me how to sulk and love nothing" might keep you guessing. In his blog, lead singer Kele Okereke called the album "not angry in an 'F.U., I won't tidy my bedroom, Linkin Park' way; more silent rage, like what is left when frustration boils over." Tong agreed.

"There is a lot of anger and it's a lot more direct than anything we've done before, " he said. "Kele sharpened and refined his focus, but it's not an angry record in the more traditional sense - I don't think it's any less potent because there's something tangible about where his frustrations came from."

A third single, Hunting for Witches, scheduled to be released in July, has already generated buzz for referencing the London transportation system bombings of July 2005.

"It [the song] is more about the fallout of what happened - an indictment of the sensationalist nature of the reporting of the events, " Tong said. "Stereotypes and scapegoats were carved out against some ethnic minorities."

Bloc Party got its break after bringing a demo to a Franz Ferdinand concert in 2003. The band was able to get a single into the hands of both Franz lead singer Alex Kapranos and Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq. Not long thereafter, Bloc Party songs popped up in popular TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and The O.C., and in Saturn car commercials.

The band toured with Panic! at the Disco in 2006. However, they dropped of the tour early after Tong was admitted to the hospital.

"I got a collapsed lung earlier on in the day while playing football, but I didn't know the extent of my injury, " he said. "I played the show that night, but by the end of it, I really couldn't breathe very well ... that was about 2 months off of drumming for me."

Now back on tour, the band looks forward to the possibilities.

"It's going to be an interesting tour for us because we're playing a lot of places that we haven't been to yet in the states, " Tong said. "Three shows in Florida and the same kind of passionate energy - there is even more to gain this time because we have so many people who haven't seen us before."

Bloc Party

Catch the group on Monday at Jannus Landing, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-1244; www.jannuslandingconcerts.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30.