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Monday, April 5, 2010

Passion Pit @ The Riverside Theater

April 3, 2010

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Talk about hype. Little more than a year ago, people associated Passion Pit with a little known '80s skin flick. Nowadays, it's the moniker for a critically acclaimed '80s disco, hipster dance outfit selling out venues across the country. With the group’s overabundance of synthesizers and giddy, helium-sucking vocals, it's easy to see why some write this electro-pop group off as daftly euphoric—the groan-worthy falsetto pitches, the multiple children's choir samples and songs jam-packed with hooks just scream migraine attack. But their sold out Saturday night performance at the Riverside Theater catapulted all these gleeful excesses to even higher territory and, surprisingly, the haters couldn't help but have a little fun.

After a calm start—Michael Angelakos' vocals quietly carried throughout the theater on "I've Got Your Number"—the night kicked into high gear with the lead track of 2009's Manners, "Make Light." That song’s driving bass line accented with Angelakos patented teenage girl shriek started a rave-like trance that held throughout the show. Only a couple times would a falsetto yelp hit a cringe-inducing high or a lull in the pace shake the band's momentum.

With only one EP and one album to draw from, scarce crowd interaction and one cover (The Cranberries’ “Dreams”), Passion Pit's set was like any great pop song: short, danceable and undeniably catchy. The audience emanated pure energy and Angelakos took notice, declaring them "one of the best balconies we've ever played to." Passion Pit closed the night with its biggest hit, "Sleepyhead," an indulgence in the band's over-the-top pop construction. It was the night’s biggest payoff.

In a likely nod to the dreamy pop duo playing simultaneously at the Pabst Theater, bassist Jeff Apruzzese wore a Beach House T-shirt, a persisting reminder to the crowd about the show they were missing. The trade-off could have been disappointing, but this was a group on top of their game. For all those Beach House apologists, Passion Pit announced they'd be back in town later this year for Summerfest—without a doubt, a must see show.


Photo by Dale Reince