Review and photos – Passion Pit at the Commodore Ballroom, April 11 2010
– review by Mitchell Ballentine/photos by Jessica Bardosh
Anytime a concert review contains only one allusion to marijuana smoking and one direct cocaine reference, you know it must have been a Sunday night on Granville Street.
I made my way into the Commodore without being patted down by the “hosts” out front and just in time to catch the final few songs of supporting act Mayer Hawthorne. It was synchronized sway as he and his band, the County, moved in time to their last few numbers.
Although they didn’t exactly whip the crowd into a frenzy with their Mark Ronson-with-soul set, Mayer’s flawless falsetto was more than enough to get the energy going in the room and receive some well-deserved praise from those in attendance.
In fact, not only did the crowd dig Hawthorne and his schoolboy-clad backers, but I also happened to notice Passion Pit‘s Ayad Al Adhamy singing along to every song as he worked the merch table to my left. A solid supporting act no doubt, but the loudest cheer to this point occurred when Hawthorne reminded the crowd in between songs just who was headlining this event.
Enough time had passed in between acts so that by the time the lights dimmed once again and the stage became illuminated with nine LED screens, the congregation was more than ready to welcome the boys from Boston (or Cambridge, more precisely). Within seconds of Michael Angelakos et al taking the stage with a vivacious delivery of “I’ve Got Your Number” I noticed more than a handful of subtle clouds of smoke rise above the spectators.
It only took a few seconds after that for everyone on the balcony above (from where I was watching) to feel at least somewhat high as the smoke rose towards us. I suppose a “thank you” is in order for those who made it their duty to ensure that the rest of us had a good, if not somewhat now more relaxed time. I’m not opposed to weed at concerts, I just don’t know if synth-heavy “wonky pop” is the kind of upbeat music one would ideally smoke a blunt to.
Following its opening song and about six words of banter, including the staple “Hello”, Yeasayer at the Commodore Ballroom moved into “Make Light”, and continued with “Better Things”; the latter spurring what was arguably the first decent crowd-bounce of the set. And so it continued for most of the night, with the band rocking a 13-song set drawn from the Manners LP and the Chunk of Change EP, and Angelakos hitting every note while the rest of the band (Al Adhamy, Ian Hultquist, Jeff Apruzzese, and Nate Donmoyer) never missed a beat.
However, when I say that Angelakos hit every note, I really can’t emphasize this enough. My esteemed photographer and attorney, who had accompanied me on this evening, summarized this sentiment fairly accurately when he exclaimed midway through the oft-televised “Moth’s Wings” that “this guy sounds like the Phil Collins of today.” Not a terrible comparison.
Aside from an amplified version of “Smile Upon Me”, the set didn’t exactly blow me away as Passion Pit stuck to its studio sound. This from a band who, just last summer had put on what one of my good friend’s had described as “the best show I’ve ever seen” (although perhaps there was something to the fact that that particular show was in NYC, and there may or may not have been irresponsible amounts of coke involved).
Of course, the legion of skinny-jean and nerd-goggle-donning neo-hipsters in attendance went wild for favs such as “The Reeling” and the evening-ending “Sleepyhead” (which was by far the highlight of the night), but I guess I had just hoped for something to write home about.
Please don’t misunderstand; this was still a good show with amazing energy. This was a great band playing a solid set and headlining a great venue. As Angelakos pointed out between songs early in the show, Passion Pit had previously opened for Yelle here in 2008, and after a failed attempt to return to Vancouver, was finally headlining the Commodore Ballroom (just before “Little Secrets” did Angelakos apologize for the cancelled show, citing “shit happens”).
The band was surely deserving of the adoration bestowed upon them by the Commodore faithful, but I just hope that next time they bring a little bit more to the table (or stage). In the end, they did what any one of us strives to do when we go to work: don’t screw up. They didn’t screw up, and although that meant playing it a bit safe, no one in attendance was any worse off because of it.
Setlist – Passion Pit at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, April 1 2010:
1. I’ve Got Your Number
2. Make Light
3. Better Things
4. The Reeling
5. Moths Wings
6. Swimming In The Flood
7. To Kingdom Come
8. Let Your Love Grow Tall
9. Folds In Your Hands
10. Smile Upon Me
11. Little Secrets
12. Eyes as Candles
More Passion Pit photos: