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June 3, 2010

Concert review: Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club at Rams Head Live

singer Michael Angelakos of Passion PitAll too often, electro-rock bands disappoint live. The thick, processed vocals sound thin in person, the lockstep synthesizers out of sync.

Not so for Passion Pit. When the five-piece from Massachusetts kicked off a summer tour with a sold-out gig at Rams Head Live last night (tonight they'll be at the 9:30 Club in Washington), the grooves were tight and funky and singer Michael Angelakos' (pictured, top) sailing falsetto was strong enough to tickle the club's rafters.

Here is a link to a photo gallery of the show.

The set wasn't long -- it clocked in at a about an hour, give or take -- but that's understandable. Passion Pit only has one album out so far, last year's "Manners," which made a splash on the indie scene. And most of the synth-heavy songs from "Manners" held up live ...

There were enough keyboards on stage to stock a music store, and the band made swift use of them. For tracks like "Little Secrets," not one, not two but three of the five guys on stage were playing synths. You didn't even miss the guitar.

Angelakos, with his frizzy bob of brown hair, button down shirt and jeans, commanded crowd members to get their hands in the air, and they complied. Every other song, open fists were bumping in the air to the beat.

singer/bassist dave monks of tokyo police clubWhen they recorded "Manners," Passion Pit smartly built in lines which audiences could latch onto in their live shows, such as "Look at me oh look at me / is this the way I'll always be? / Oh noooo" and "higher and higher and higher."

At Rams Head, it seemed like everyone knew these parts, and sang along, their hands in the air. The show was filled with ecstatic moments like this -- flashes of pure party bliss fueled by slinky synths and irresistible beats.

Passion Pit let it all hang out with their second-to-last song of the night, a cover of the Cranberries' "Dreams." Angelakos and Co. amped up the usually airy track, giving it a fresh sense of urgency and perhaps a dash of camp.

Last November, when the Cranberries opened their tour at Rams Head Live, they also wrapped up their show with "Dreams." Passion Pit did it better.

Opener Toyko Police Club laid out some fast and loose indie rock, with a blend of songs from their debut, "Elephant Shell" and their new one, "Champ," which is due out in a few days. Singer/bassist Dave Monks (pictured, bottom) has a specific range, but uses it well. Unfortunately, many of his verses were lost in the washy mix. Though the newer songs lacked the same punch as older tracks like "Tesellate" and "Your Engish Is Good," they showed plenty of promise.

(Baltimore Sun photos by Josh Sisk)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:54 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Concert reviews


you must have missed sleepyhead which is what they actually closed with

Yes. It was a great show and kudos goes to Angelakos for drastically improving his stage presence after endless touring off Manners. Actually, at the first show they played two Februarys ago at Black Cat (when the Chunk of Change EP was all that existed), he was almost hiding behind his keyboard. Now, it's obvious he's comfortable with being a showman. Great energy in Ram's Head.

Also, Sam I hope you stuck around for Sleepyhead as the real final song after Dreams. It was a sick version.

Work today? **Yawn...

Fellas -- thanks for the note about Sleepyhead. I did catch that, but must have mixed it up in my little Reporters Notepad. I updated the review.

It was a sincerely great show.

Also, I saw one of my friends there with his 8-months-pregnant wife. That baby's gonna ROCK!

Does anyone know the name of the song Passion Pit played that wasn't on their albulm. It was upbeat and great to dance to?

Does anyone have a setlist for this show?

An hour is a pretty long set. Unless you're in a stadium or something, you can't really expect more than an hour.

Not trying to nit pick, Sess-man. Just was hoping you caught the last one bc it was awesome, too.

An hour is a pretty long set...if they are playing two of them.

I saw them live at 9:30 club the next day. It was equally as good.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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