The Scene: After what seems to be a pretty big blunder, Electro Indie-Pop band Passion Pit’s show on Tuesday was moved from the 6,500 person 1stBank Center to the 1000 person Boulder Theater earlier this month. Perhaps it was the steep ticket price ($48 day-of-show) or the fact that they had just played an arena show here in March, but the band, who has been on main stages at festivals all summer failed to sell out the relatively tiny Boulder Theater. I couldn’t help but feel a little out of place standing in line surrounded by texting teenagers who lined up early for the show, but after Passion Pit’s performance here in March [Editor’s Note: Read our review of that show here] I was more than excited for their return.
The Opener: The Joy Formidable. The pint-sized Ritzy Bryan, the frontwoman of Welsh Rock trio The Joy Formidable, is a cute little girl with a big stage presence. Her bass player Rhydian Dafydd and drummer Matt Thomas had rockstar energy that kept the attention of the young audience, but failed to elicit as much of a response as their ear shattering volume beckoned. “Maw Maw Song” was a standout in their brief 30 minutes slot, with Dafydd crashing a man-sized gong behind his kit. After catching most of the set I had to take advantage of an empty bar and rest my ears for a few minutes in the lobby while the band’s biggest song “Whirring” played in the background. I was relieved to see plenty more people in their twenties pouring in, easing my worries that Passion Pit wasn’t cool anymore.
Passion Pit: The massive Passion Pit banner felt much more appropriate on the mainstage at Austin City Limits when I saw them two weeks ago, but it fit, and despite the small turnout and recent illness, Passion Pit’s frontman/mastermind Michael Angelakos, took the stage in full stride. Opening with “Make Light” Angelakos voice sounded maybe a tad wounded, but not enough to taint the show ahead. Angelakos paced the surface of the stage at a near jog, bending forward to hit the top of his distinct falsetto. Three songs in, the arrival of the ridiculously infectious “Carried Away” kicked off a crowd energy that swelled until the end of the 80 minute set. Adam Lavinsky, a caged beast behind a plexiglass wall, drove the beat that breathed fire into melodic synth lines and Angelakos stoked that fire by jutting the microphone into the singing crowd by the minute.
The show was lacking that chest rattling bass of the 1stBank Center and the vocals were drowned out at times upfront, but the sound got pretty decent once I decided to move from the heat of the pit to big-kid section towards the middle. Large white beams of light shot through the otherwise dimly lit stage tracing fans and the art deco walls of the theater. While a smaller venue sounds like a much better place to see a show, I missed some of the production value (think large descending colored balls) and energy that I got from the crowd at the 1stBank show and ACL.
The highlight of the night came with a three-song bomb of “Take A Walk,” “Cry Like A Ghost,” and “Sleepyhead” at the end of the regular set–“Take A Walk” easily being the biggest energy generator of the night. That was followed by the unmistakable intro of “Sleepyhead,” which I’m fairly certain violently blew the minds of the kids in front of me. The encore was home to another crowd favorite and necessary last addition, “Little Secrets,” which paired quite nicely with a stomach full of tiny cups of Bud Light and two ringing ears.
Sure, it was undersold and scaled down, but I stand by my love for seeing these guys perform live. You know where to find me when they’re in town next.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B-