Concert Review: Passion Pit, Lee’s Palace, June 16

Toronto – So I didn’t know anything about Passion Pit until about 30 minutes before I went to their show last night but Ricky had an extra ticket and the only things I have to look forward to on most Tuesday nights are Seinfeld reruns.

No surprise then that the only track I recognized from them whilst doing my 15-minute pre-show research was their Sony PSP spot (Sleepy Head). Although I also liked the Reeling, I can see how Michael Angelakos has the sort of vocals you either love to hate or love to love. On the one hand it’s extremely distinctive, maybe even soulful. On the other hand this might be the sort of operatic sound a guy would make while his balls are being put through a woodchipper. Be that as it may, there’s no denying that the white marriage of catchy dancey beats + soul / funk rock is a great genre that is here to stay, and that these guys do very well with. But hey, what do I know. I just listened to the four songs they have on their MySpace page.

Passion Pit by allsongs.

The first thing that struck me when we lined up to get in was the amazing steam their hype machine has picked up. Whoever is representing them is doing an astronomical job because this show is on-par with being one of the most sold-out shows I’ve ever seen at Lee’s with scalpers reportedly selling for $40, $60, and in Chicago, $100. It looked like their openers Harlem Shakes attracted a massive audience as well, and good for them. We were late and missed their performance¬† but from the three tracks I listened to off their page they have the potential to be a rootsier pop version of Ben Folds Five and have garnered pretty good reviews from everyone who caught them last night.

Another effect of our tardiness: shitty viewing position. We stood at the bottom of the stairs surrounded by a bunch of bald guys wearing graphic t-shirts and were rightfully pushed around by people walking back and forth from the bar to reclaim their spots. Hey, I’d have trampled me too.

Trample-spots aside I have to say I’m kind of surprised as to how well the show was received. Angelakos pretty much botched their entire set with his off-key vocals and not only did the audience not seem to care, they begged for more, chanting their “Oh Nooooooooooo”s throughout their encore (the Reeling).

You know, I am sympathetic to the green performer. As someone who is terrified by the very THOUGHT of stage fright I can appreciate how someone like Robert Pollard (of Guided by Voices) struggled in his early performance days to find the perfect level of drunkenness just to get himself up there. While I’m sure inexperience and the jitters were factors here I’m going to go out on a sanctimonious limb and say the vocal talent just isn’t there without studio production. I know that there are a ton of indie acts out there who get away with bad vocals, but think about this genre they are going for and its demands, and then think about a distinctive voice gone wrong. When something status-quo is botched, we all go “Oh well”. When something unique is botched, we all go “WTF was that?!”. It’s just human nature. But then again, maybe it’s just that he sounded like a castrato being put through a Juiceman Jr. motor last night.

The band recouped quite a bit with their performance and I thought sampler guy Ayad Al Adhamy bore a lot of charismatic jib with his constant head bopping and gyrations. A run of friendly banter and some interaction with the audience would’ve made me excuse the rest. This is something I think a lot of new acts could learn from the older set. I know touring is an incredible way to burn yourself out quickly, especially when you’re blitzing through a major city every 1.5 days but a bit of cordial chat goes a long way in all walks of life.

Posted on by Allison in Concerts

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