Review / setlist: Passion Pit turn up the heat at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa
It happened again.
For the fourth straight year, I thought about going to Bonnaroo, then ultimately decided, Nah, I can skip this one; I'll go some other year. Then I read about all the awesome things that happened at this year's Bonnaroo, and I immediately wished I'd pulled the trigger and gone.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Because I didn't drive to Manchester, Tenn., I had plenty of energy to hit the Ritz Ybor Monday night to see an electronic indie-pop band that by all rights should have been at Bonnaroo 2010: Passion Pit.
Turns out I needed every last drop of that energy, because the sold-out crowd that squeezed into the Ritz for Passion Pit was as hot, sweaty and vivacious as any Tampa Bay audience I've seen this year.
Maybe it was the record-setting heat. Maybe it was the fact that people were lined up around the block to get in, and hipsters were begging for tickets outside (I saw one dude in a homemade T-shirt that read, "Need PP tix. PS: I'm dying"). Whatever the reason, it was ninth-circle-of-hell sweltering inside the Ritz, and still no one cared. If you weren't dancing, you didn't need to be there.
"You guys are one of the loudest crowds I think we've ever been to," said singer Michael Angelakos, who -- despite critical adulation that has led to sold-out shows around the country -- seemed genuinely humbled by the deafening reception that followed nearly every song in Passion Pit's 14-song set (get the setlist after the jump).
Whether Boston's Passion Pit becomes an electronic pop sensation like Lady Gaga and Owl City -- two other acts who have played the Ritz in the past 14 months -- remains to be seen. But we do know this: Their debut album Manners is track after track of unstoppable New Wave disco, from the sexy shimmer of Folds In Your Hands to the dreamy freakout of Sleepyhead.
The band did not disappoint fans of Manners, performing 10 of the album's 11 songs, as well as a serviceable cover of the Cranberries' Dreams, which appears on a recent deluxe edition of the album. Fans screamed along to the "Oh no's!" in The Reeling, and pumped their fists to the anthemic Moth's Wings.
Much has been made of Angelakos' love-it-or-hate-it Mickey Mouse falsetto; in concert, it falls somewhere between Barry Gibb and Kip Winger -- which is to say, it's not much different from many other rock singers' voices. Certainly no one at the Ritz seemed to mind it.
Just six songs into the set, Angelakos -- looking like a svelte version of Zach Galifianakis -- sat down at a keyboard (one of more than a half dozen onstage) for the downbeat, Depeche-y Swimming In The Flood, and sweat dripped from his beard and arms. The heat was getting to him, and to us. All throughout the audience, glasses were fogging and hairsprays were failing.
But Passion Pit held strong, and they hit their stride in the final three songs before the encore -- Folds In Your Hand, Smile Upon Me and the irresistible feel-good anthem Little Secrets. It was during these songs that everyone in the crowd realized no one was going home clean, so they might as well dance, yell and bounce like there was no tomorrow.
I can tell you this: I saw Lady Gaga sing No. 1 hit Poker Face at the Ritz, and I saw Owl City perform No. 1 hit Fireflies there. In both cases, there was a ton of energy in the room -- but Passion Pit's performance of Little Secrets topped them both. By the time the crowd screamed "Higher and higher and higher!" during the chorus, you could barely hear Angelakos' vocals. Just look at this clip!
At the end of the show, the sweating, shirtless masses poured back onto La Septima, leaving the Ritz dancefloor soaked with beer, perspiration and good vibes. God help whoever had to clean up afterward.
It was a hot crowd from the get-go, both in temperature and in spirit. Innovative Brooklyn trio Brahms -- imagine Animal Collective covering Depeche Mode -- got the New Wave vibe going early with a lively blend of synths, keyboards and drums (complete with glowing drumsticks). They were well received by the crowd, which clapped and cheered lustily -- not always the case for the first act onstage.
The second opener -- Toronto's Tokyo Police Club -- was good enough to headline in its own right, and fans packed in to hear them. The jittery, handclappable post-punk of favorites like Tessellate and Your English Is Good set heads bobbing in the pit. And they were quick on their feet: When singer-bassist Dave Monks broke a string between Breakneck Speed and Wait Up (Boots of Danger), a keyboardist ran offstage to fetch another bass, and the band picked right back up like nothing had happened.
The band took a break from stylish Euro-flavored rock for the new tune End of a Spark, an alt-countryish swinger from new album Champ that could be an intriguing direction for the band to follow. If Tokyo Police Club decides not to become the next Phoenix, maybe they can become the next Old 97s. A worthy pursuit either way.Of course, it goes without saying that Tokyo Police Club was at Bonnaroo this year. One more reason I should have been there, too.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
PASSION PIT SETLIST
1. I've Got Your Number
2. Make Light
3. Better Things
4. The Reeling
5. Moth's Wings
6. Swimming In The Flood
7. To Kingdom Come
8. Let Your Love Grow Tall
9. Folds In Your Hand
10. Smile Upon Me
11. Little Secrets
12. Eyes As Candles
13. Dreams (Cranberries cover)