Words By Morgan Baskin, Photos By Sarah Park
You are lying if you claim that Passion Pit is your favorite band. “Sleepyhead” is a killer song, “The Reeling” is fun but forgettable. One of your friends who wants to be a producer has probably made a shitty remix of “Carried Away” and played it in public. But Passion Pit is nobody’s favorite band.
Before the opening band’s set, which was some Nashville-based indie pop group called Coin, “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson thumped from the venue’s speakers. You could feel the collective chill from everybody in the 9:30 Club, and nobody wasn’t singing. It was the most exhilarating part of my night.
Coin sounded like something you’d hear on The OC. Like most of Passion Pit’s songs, they were Good, even Fun. But they were forgettable. They did all of the things a Fun, Cool band does–try to make us Clap during Interludes, announce that they are going to play you a New Song From The Record (that comes out This June!), hold out the mic for audience to Sing Along (only to be met with garbled, drunk cheers). The lead singer even took off his Little Black Jacket.
They’re the makings of a band that’ll be listed somewhere in the middle of a music festival lineup, get two hit songs on the radio and disappear.
To properly convey the essence of Passion Pit, I will tell this story through the eyes of a concert-goer I will refer to as Fedora Man, because he was wearing both a fedora and a short-sleeved, triangle-patterned button-down. Fedora Man was very excited about Passion Pit, and I know this because he kept screaming “Dance party!!!!” and doing the worm with his arms.
Other people were spotted: eating sliders during the show, wearing metallic temporary tattoos, drinking coffee. Someone next to Fedora Man was wearing a backpack, and he got very offended, asking why he wanted to look like a turtle.
Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit’s founding member and lead singer, finally took the stage. Despite the fact that the percussion verged on overbearing and Angelakos sings like Pac-Man on adderall–particularly on “Little Secrets,” which, incidentally, Passion Pit opened with–everyone was really vibing. Nobody moreso than Fedora Man, who threw his head back and chanted “I am” with so much passion he knocked someone’s craft beer to the floor. What I will say about Passion Pit is that when Angelakos held out the mic, people actually sang.
After “Sylvia” was over, Fedora Man kept singing.
It was, overall, a strange production, and it’s because Passion Pit can’t really figure out what their sound is. Artists grow and you can’t pigeonhole them, but at the point where the room goes from sounding like a tropical sex club, with little tinkling xylophones over a throbbing bass, to a teenage girl’s Sweet 16, you know you’ve got to define (and refine) your vibe. It’s hard to get into a show when you’ve got aural whiplash.
Back outside on U Street, at Nellies Sports Bar, a woman was singing a Kelly Clarkson song on karaoke. The night had come full circle.