You know the feeling: someone escorts a beloved band out of obscurity and into the spotlight, sputtering with stage fright and excitement. Suddenly, it's exploded: it has TV spots; it has sold-out shows; and it has fans that...aren't just you.
Anyway, the point: when I heard "Sleepy Head" in my friend's car the day after the show in early 2008, I thought her speakers were going to burst, and I was in love. Since then, this bright little band has bled into the public realm of commercials and television soundtracks (hello, Gossip Girl), and frontman Michael Angelakos' little Prozac pill of a project has ignited a bromance with fans spanning genres and tastes. This is surprising, since Angelakos' window-rattling shriek isn't exactly the most accessible voice on the indie-dance market. But bliss knows no boundaries, and that's exactly what Angelakos and co. is peddling.
Passion Pit kicked off their sold-out set at the Beaumont on Monday night in front of a crowd with a surprising amount of hands with bold X's emblazoned on them. From my point of view, the show was mostly comprised of silhouetted hands raised in the air (thank you, Beaumont), but what few glimpses I did snatch of Angelakos and his band revealed a fun, rollicking group hopping, screaming and dancing in front of a dazzling stage set-up.
Seizure-inducing flashes, kaleidoscopic LCD screens of light, thumping bass and bouncing synth lines provided a euphoric experience for an underage crowd that was very obviously not on ecstasy. (There were some skunky plumes of smoke rising in the Beaumont last night, but nothing too crazy -- after all, it was a school night.) From a concert-goer's standpoint, Passion Pit wrung out every last drop of joy and jubilation from their fifteen-song set. Angelakos yelped through a synthesized sound set-up that rendered his shrieks electrifying, and growling MSTRKRFT-like bass lines buzzed the Beaumont's floorboards. But the fist-pumping party atmosphere that Passion Pit created, while contagious and truly seamless, felt derivative: keyboard lines that could be ripped from MGMT's Oracular Spectacular spilled out of "The Reeling," and vibrant synth hooks that sounded suspiciously like Daft Punk throbbed in "Better Things."
Similarly, the delicate splendor inherent in Passion Pit songs like "Swimming in the Flood" was obliterated by a thudding bass overhaul. (Unfortunately -- or fortunately, if you're talking money and mass appeal -- one can crank up the bass on most of Passion Pit's tunes and have an instant dance party, regardless of theme, lyricism or artistic merit.) The manic-depressive beauty in Passion Pit's tumbling electro-dance jams was in the songs' underlying aching fragility, like a lovelorn sigh. Seeing the group abandon all subtlety to kick it onstage -- to great success, no less -- was bittersweet.
I missed the first opener, Bear Hands, but openers Mayer Hawthorne & the County dressed like a college acapella group, and played watered-down "soul" music that earned the shudder-inducing genre curse of Easy Listening. They also broke out a rap cover of Biz Markie that was cringe-worthy all the way from my place in the bathroom line.
I've Got Your Number
Swimming in the Flood
To Kingdom Come
Let Your Love Grow Tall
Folds in Your Hand
Smile Upon Me
Eyes As Candles
Dreams (a Cranberries cover)