SunFest, West Palm Beach
May 4, 2012
A gentle breeze and balmy upper-70-degree weather provided idyllic conditions for enjoying SunFest, West Palm Beach's multigenerational music and arts festival by the Intracoastal on Friday night.
In Eve to Adam's defense, it does emit a tad bit harder riffs with its straightforward radio-ready rock. It's no surprise that both bands will be embarking on a milk-chugging, good guy rock 'n' roll summer tour.
After a quick imbibing pit stop at one of the three Captain Morgan's floating oasis barges, we were off to the main draw. Three years removed from the release on their debut album, Manners, we imagine the fellas from Passion Pit have grown weary of the album's hits. We went into this set anticipating to hear numbers from the group's follow-up, Gossamer -- scheduled for a July 24 release date. The new ones did trickle out, but the electro-pop troupe was on point with regard to delivering all the squelching fan favorites.
Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos walked out looking mighty dapper in a form-fitting suit as the sprightly keys began for uplifting tune "Moth's Wings." Regrettably, between the shrieks of excitement from the multitude of teenaged girls in attendance and the overamplified keyboards, Angelakos' vocals were barley audible.
We were able to make out Angelakos dedicating "Take a Walk"-- one of three new tracks Passion Pit would play through the course of the night -- to fallen Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (AKA MCA). Unfortunately, the audio mix was still not in Angelakos' favor, so we could not make out much of the lyrical content. Still, cliché though it may be, we tipped our Stellas in honor of MCA for good measure.
"Take a Walk" is more of a pop-oriented ballad song, with the BPMs slower than a customary Passion Pit tune. It has a dramatic flair that would befit the Killers circa its Day and Age era.
Matters came together for the six-piece's version of "The Reeling," with Angelakos' falsettos overcoming the deafening sequels still being emitted from the thousands of teenybopper gals. The screams subdued, though, when the crowd joined the band in unison to the melody's meaty hooks, singing "Oh, oh, oh."
At the end, one overenthusiastic cherub yelled a request at Angelakos, to which he replied: "Yeah, we will play all that shit." And the man lived up to his promise.
"Folds in Your Hands" came next with frolicking, squiggling synthesizers that had the entire crowd gyrating to every beat. Even more impressive was Angelakos' impossibly high registers. The man hits pitches so high that Freddie Mercury himself would have been impressed. Any glass within earshot must have shattered. Perhaps Angelakos' ultra-tight dress pants are his secret for reaching such inconceivable vocal heights.
Another new track named "Carried Away" was our favorite of the three previewed Gossamer songs. It began with '80s-afflicted synth staccatos, which gave way to Angelakos' sing-rap verses (think Blondie's "Heart of Glass") and an extremely easy chorus to entice crowd sing-alongs, "I get carried away." A sweeping organ and sparkling keyboards boosted this instantaneous crowd pleaser.
"To Kingdome Come" was another favorite, with Angelakos taking a seat at the electromechanical piano. It was a well-deserved respite as the man had not stopped running from one side of the stage to the other for the length of the set until now. He showed no sign of wearing down as he was able to take the mood down a notch and delivered the song's endearing verse with captivating emotion. We imagine all the teen gals were putty in his hands at this point.
If they were not head-over-heels yet, "Let Your Love Grow Tall" surely won them over. One of Passion Pit's tunes that pulls most at the heartstrings, Angelakos got up off his piano and began to roam the stage once again and enthrall the crowd even more. Check the video for audio evidence of the earsplitting obstacles Angelakos had to
overcome the entire night.
The piercing screams never completely waned, and whenever a familiar chorus arose -- such as on "Let Your Love Grow Tall" -- the teenyboppers pretty much overtook Angelakos' lines. (Just watch the video. Also check out the sweat stains permeating through Angelakos back; gives you an idea of the intensity of his performance.)
The fans were so enraptured by Passion Pit that during "Smile Upon Me," it's possible a bra flew over our heads. No kidding. "What the shizz? Is this what Poison concerts were like in the '80s?" we contemplated as that woman's undergarment landed inches from the stage.
"Sleepyhead" brought the set to an epic crescendo. Ian Hultquist (synthesizer and guitar) and Ayad Al Adhamy (synthesizer, samples) emitted impressive, cascading electrical bleeps and blaps on this one that left us in awe. Granted, much of Passion Pit's music is Angelakos brainchild, but his band would be nowhere without these two standout keyboard maestros backing him, and stand out is what they did.
As an encore, the band chose another new one, "Mirrored Sea." It was a frisky tune that reminded us of the Rapture's wilder days. Sample it below.
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"Little Secrets" was the grand finale. As Angelakos sang, "higher and higher and higher," we think the crowd took that as a challenge, because that's exactly what they did, together jumping an inch higher with each bleepy note.
Despite the majority of Passion Pit's songs relying on electrical machinery, the group managed to pull off a set that never seemed cold. Angelakos impossibly high vocal register is one to marvel at as well. And both he and the crowd had an intense workout for the entirety of the 75-minute set. Everyone likely had a good night's rest after all of that, and some gals enjoyed heavenly dreams involving Angelakos in Fifty Shades of Grey-style encounter.
Overheard in the crowd: "You know, Passion Pit is my niece's favorite band."
Critical bias: Bleepy bloopy music with a heart-warming message can pull at our heartstrings too. Not ashamed to admit it.
The crowd: A vocal majority of girls 30 and under who most likely still do not have a voice this Monday morning.