Saturday, April 19, 2014
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REVIEW: Passion Pit at Agganis Arena

When Passion Pit brought their brand of electronic indie-pop to a blizzard-depleted but passionate crowd at Agganis Arena, I came to the show not knowing much about the Boston-born band. As any good concertgoer would, I listened to their albums on repeat to prepare myself, but I still wasn’t familiar with the intricacies of their music. I’ve heard rumblings of them delivering fantastic festival sets so I was curious if they could win over an impartial music listener such as myself. Ultimately, the relatively young Passion Pit (they released their first EP in 2008) delivered a decent experience and a nice work break. However, I don’t feel the fondness for them that comes after outstanding live performances.

The show’s main pitfall was its heavy reliance on prerecorded music, which robs songs of the room to breathe and to grow organically. The songs that utilized the most prerecorded music were the least exciting of the night. For example, the logical encore choice of “Sleepyhead” just wasn’t that exciting when played live. It sounded more like a song being blasted out of the speakers than an organically live number. The prerecorded numbers constantly struggled to live up to the album versions. Ultimately, I don’t think they did.

The best moments of the night came when the band escaped from prerecorded tracks and relied on each other. The highlight of the night was “Take a Walk.” The song is a tad more subdued than some of Passion Pit’s crazier numbers, but the interplay between the pounding drums and the bright synth shone in the live setting. Passion Pit sounded best when you could hear the intricacies of the music rather than those times when far too many sounds incomprehensibly blasted through the speakers.

One reason for this could be that Passion Pit had the arena working against them. Honestly, unless you’re standing in the pit, who truly enjoys arena shows? They’re only really entertaining when you see an artist who will never play a club or concert hall again (your Paul McCartneys or Bruce Springsteens of the world). Other times it’s simply the case of loving an artist so much that you’re willing to overlook the fact that you’re watching tiny little specks play. Even though I had a decent vantage point, I’m sure the show would have been tremendously better had the band played down the road at Paradise Rock Club — but there’s absolutely no reason the band would if they could garner the ticket sales to book an arena.

Passion Pit makes catchy music with entrancing rhythm sections that straddle the line between dance music and indie rock. They have a knack for writing earworm tracks. Even so, it was difficult to differentiate between many of them even after my binge of their music. For this reason, the show was largely fun but forgettable. Now, this isn’t inherently bad. I enjoyed my time and was often transfixed by the hooks and rhythms of the songs, but I could not tell you anything more. Ultimately, I failed to come away with any lasting impressions.

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