My opinions on Passion Pit are pretty well known among the handful of you who might read this, so I’ll try to keep it brief.
Congress Theater: I have a love hate relationship with Congress Theater. The space is huge (capacity 4000) and every show I’ve seen there was sold out and either pure dance or highly danceable rock, so it is a constant 120 degrees inside. I guess they can’t avoid that and maybe for dance that’s ok. ($5 bottles of water is not ok, but alas…) On a positive note, this was the most prompt show I’ve seen there. Their usual M.O. is one headliner, two openers and four to six local DJs, with a 1+ hour wait in the will call line. (I wish this was hyperbole.) This time, we got first opener at 8:00, second at 8:45 and headliner at 10:10.
Bear Hands: I’m sorry, but no. Your closing number was passable, but please no more.
Mayer Hawthorne & The County: I knew nothing of these guys beforehand and was quite surprised to hear their sound; it’s Motown rock. These guys seemed a bit anachronistic, but the crowd was pretty into it and it’s a great sound, so I must approve. I was a bit surprised though, because between the soul and slow rock, the lead singer would yell things like “Bring the motherfucking noise!” which sort of invalidated the “fun-for-the-whole-family” vibe I was getting before. Anyway, I recommend.
Passion Pit: This is the fourth time I’ve seen these guys, which is weird since they only have one album and an EP, but they’ve been touring the crap out of it and they sound different each time I see them as they work on changing their 100% electronic processed sound into a rock sound. I have to say that this incarnation was technically lacking. (The XRT free show in September was when I felt the electronic/rock mix best jived.) This time they chipped notes, had a tons of feedback and sometimes they sounded plain out of tune. If you can’t stand this, then I don’t blame you, but I guess I’m tolerant since it’s still so danceable. They seem to really be having fun and when that’s echoed by 4000 people, I’m willing to look past it and enjoy. And there is something plain insane to having all these people jumping at the same time screaming “Higher and higher and higher…” For the encore, we were treated to “Dreams,” a cover of The Cranberries classic.
This was Passion Pit’s biggest show ever and, with another Chicago date added later this month, there’s no denying they’re still getting bigger. This was also the strangest crowd I’d been in for them. Earlier times I felt it was mostly hipsters, but the audience has turned much more MTV; there were a lot of douche-bag guys (who all seem to be 6’5″ and stand right in front of me), and teenage girls (though, thankfully, fewer than I feared would be there). I felt old and the fact that I went alone didn’t help. Maybe I’m being pretentious since I’ve been listening to them since before “Sleepyhead” got big. Then again, maybe I’m just old.