08 April 2010

The Live Vault: Passion Pit

3 April 2010
Riverside Theater, Milwaukee
[On occasion, our far flung correspondents attend and review shows. Here's another installment.]

In 2007, LCD Soundsystem started the latest electronica wave in rock with Sound of Silver. The following year, MGMT's CD Oracular Spectacular was released to critical acclaim.

Then it was Passion Pit's turn to push the genre. The Boston outfit made numerous "best of" 2009 lists with Manners.

Enough of a buzz about the band has been created that their appearance in Milwaukee on Saturday night was moved to a larger venue, the Riverside Theater, and was broadcast live on local FM radio. And aside from a few hiccups, Passion Pit delivered a strong and emotional performance for the packed crowd, which stood from the set's opener "I've Got Your Number" until the obligatory closer, the underground hit "Sleepyhead."

The quintet consistently delivered danceable melodies and anthemic choruses, almost all drawn from Manners. Michael Angelakos is certainly an unlikely front man; but his childlike falsetto vocals and dance (?) moves reminiscent of Michael Stipe and fellow Bostonian Peter Wolf came across as genuinely sincere to this reviewer. The other four band members, surrounded by booming rhythm and synths, could fit into the cast of The Big Bang Theory. The sound filled the hall and created a sea of standing dancers from row one to the back of the highest balcony, literally making the building shake and sway with happiness.

Sure, some things didn't work, like the rote cover of The Cranberries' "Dreams." While it fit the scheme of singalong chorus, it was nothing special. And the mix was muddy at times, with the drums and bass getting lost among the sea of synthesizers.

It seems clear to this observer that Passion Pit is a logical descendant of New Order, Heaven 17 and The Human League. And while that time span may make it hard to fit in with the demographic the Bostonians cater to, it took no imagination to observe the pure joy that the band brought to the crowd during its exciting version of "Little Secrets."

So go ahead and dance. Yeah, it's 24 Hour Party People, alright. But for the 21st century.

I've Got Your Number
Make Light
Better Things
The Reeling
Moth's Wings
Swimming In The Flood
To Kingdom Come
Let Your Love Grow Tall
Folds In Your Hands
Smile Upon Me
Little Secrets
Eyes As Candles

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