Live Review: Passion Pit with Wild Belle and Youngblood Hawke at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 16th October 2012

By on Friday, 26th October 2012 at 2:11 pm
 

I made the choice to do this show differently. I was actually going to shoot from the pit and enjoy the show from the back. Everyone says about the 9:30, “the sound is better in the back”, but I am so very short, so for me, it’s “the more front, the better”. While the sound was lovely from the back, what I really noticed was that the bass is really amplified in the back. I could actually feel my earplugs vibrate within my ears. I think I’ll just stick to the front.

First opener Wild Belle, with brother/sister songwriters Natalie and Elliot Bergman, filled up a stage already crammed for the night: three bands, 15 musicians and still the same square footage the venue always has to offer. A bit of West African flavour from Elliot Bergman and the soulful voice of sister Natalie effectively obscured their Midwestern origins. Packed with sax, a tinge of reggae and a bluesy vibe, this act made themselves unique by layering it all over a strong synthesiser base. It was quite fresh.

Youngblood Hawke were who got me interested in this gig in the first place. As one of TGTF Bands to Watch (read here), I was quite excited to see how they translated their shimmery pop onto the stage. I was a little shaken by the appearance of Sam Martin, the lead singer; it seemed to me he was channeling Steve Perry from Journey. Blue and white striped trousers, a sequined shirt and shoulder length curly hair. All he needed was a long scarf on his mic stand to look the quintessential ‘80s rock figure.

They took the stage with an energy that I hadn’t quite expected based on their excellent eponymous EP. In fact, during ‘Protect Yourself’, Martin took a very aggressive rapper-like stance that seemed pretty polar to the sparkly pop found on their record. Their cover of Better Than Ezra’s ‘Juicy’, however, grabbed the crowd and had them singing and dancing before they launched into their single ‘We Come Running’. At this point, they truly had the whole place filled with their infectious enthusiasm with Martin breaching the barrier to join the fans. They ended their set with an exceptional percussion piece that had all five of them with sticks in their hands pounding on something.

I went into the Passion Pit gig thinking that it would be populated by hipsters galore, and while I did see my fair share of plaid, beanies, and overly thick-rimmed glasses, it wasn’t too bad. On the flip side, I also did not experience the same kind of mass jumping I’ve seen at festivals (and indeed was a part of the last time they graced the DC area with a free outdoor set). Not withstanding those expectations, this, the third and final of three sold out gigs at DC’s famous 9:30 Club brought it once again. One thing astonished me, although knowing their music, it shouldn’t have. For 80% of the show, there was no guitar. A bass, yes. But no guitar. I almost don’t know how you can be a band with no guitar. Yes, yes, electronic music is all the rage and you don’t need a guitar, but I guess it’s not my usual thing. Gee, even Goyte had a guitar!

The set started off with the catchy single ‘Take a Walk’ getting the crowd dancing and singing. Despite the fact that the nine previous musicians’ worth of equipment had been removed, the stage fairly burst with the ensemble backing Michael Angelakos. The night belonged to Angelakos, prowling the stage like a caged big cat as he does. He wasn’t chatty, but he kept it flowing as they ripped through new and old. It was especially gratifying to hear a couple tunes off the first EP. But it was the sing-alongs like in ‘I’ll Be Alright’ and ‘Little Secrets’ that identified the night. While I have no idea how many in the crowd were repeat attendees, I do know that by the end of the night, Passion Pit had provided spectacular satisfaction for quite a few thousand people during their time in America’s national capital.

After the cut: set lists from Passion Pit and Youngblood Hawke.

Passion Pit Set List:
Talk a Walk
The Reeling
Let Your Love Grow Tall
I’ve Got Your Number
Carried Away
Better things
Eyes as Candles
Constant Conversations
Live to Tell the Tale
To Kingdome Come
It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy
Folds in Your Hands
Mirrored Sea
Love Is Grand
I’ll Be Alright
Sleepyhead
//
Moth’s Wings
Little Secrets

Youngblood Hawke Set List:
Rootless
Danny Boy
In Our Blood
Come Looking
Protect Yourself
Juicy
We Come Running
Forever
Glacier

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