On The List :: Passion Pit @ Piano's [8.20.08]

Passion Pit is a party. A little absurd, a little unrefined, but most good social events are; and this is that, a social event. Most of the crowd know something on the order of three songs from this band. A smaller, but not to be forgotten, subset have only heard one. If this audience is being honest, they came here to hear "Sleepyhead."

The show is sold-out. A few lucky super-fans talk their way past the Piano's door staff because velvet (and non-velvet) ropes are made to be broken. The set starts and the front couple rows are pistoning. Musically, this is like listening to Clap Your Hands' lead-singer try to sing Tigercity's version of the Reading Rainbow theme song. Just so we're clear: that's straining, maybe even annoying, falsetto vocals fired through a synth-hurricane - only what comes out the other side is so poppy, it keeps your attention. One more time, Alec Ounsworth singing an octave up on a synth-sexy Reading Rainbow theme. It's not as bad as I just made it sound. It actually might make you clap your hands.

And that happens. Most of the energy is coming from the right side of the stage where a man, obfuscated by a massive deck of keyboards, keeps encouraging the crowd to clap. Most people agree. This is the same kid who during sound-check asked that his mic be turned down because he, "wasn't that important." Seeing things play-out now, this kid needs to get turned up because he's the only one trying to turn anyone out.

The band is playing "a bunch of new stuff." We can guess that means, "their catalogue." We're about twenty-minutes from the bassist's 23rd birthday, they tell us. It's not like this band is on their 3rd record. Everything is the new stuff. Which isn't, in and of itself, a bad thing. To be young and embracing the 80s throwback explosion isn't a bad thing. This band sounds a little bit like the American version of Friendly Fires and with the right push, could have about 60% of the MGMT-impact (read: sales, collective embrace from indie kids). But most of that is riding on the one song everyone came to see.

"Sleepyhead" is second-to-last and that seems about right. As the opening sounds are checked through the synths, you can tell what's coming. Everyone recognizes what's going on. First reactions: this is way better live. It's louder (obviously) but it just seems to operate better in a crowd. Like an extremely extroverted friend, "Sleepyhead" is best when around, and shared with, others. It's almost like this song needed us to work. And that is vaguely flattering.

The band plays one more song, for a grand total of seven, and takes off. There isn't a lot of fan-fare and there isn't an encore. People got what they came to see and the band will be back next week for their last Piano's show of all-time (count on that). And when they come back, the crowd won't be there to see one song. They'll want the whole record (which is pretty good, we hear). But people will still want to hear "Sleepyhead" anyhow. If they're being honest.

Listen :: Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

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