Passion Pit's show at 1STBANK Center was more about feel than flash, more about mood than pageantry. The globes started to glow pink right before Passion Pit broke into the slow tempo of "Constant Conversations" and singer Michael Angelakos busted out some fine falsetto crooning. The cloth spheres of different sizes were all over the stage, behind the band and moving up and down throughout the act's fifteen-song set. A few of the largest were at the front of the stage, changing colors for different tunes and different musical moods. It was a straightforward touch of stagecraft, and that earnest feel fit the larger theme of Passion Pit's show.
The set itself lasted a little more than an hour, but there were plenty of times when the band appealed directly to the raw emotions of the sold-out crowd, exhorting the thousands and thousands of fans to sing along to choruses and wave their hands in the air. And naturally, they obliged.
After an adrenaline-packed, dizzying opening set by Matt and Kim, a crew of dozens scrambled across the stage to strike a pair of screens and set up Passion Pit's arrangement of lights, globes and keyboards. At around 9 p.m., the house lights went dim, a bass hum boomed from the speakers, yellow lights flashed and a static line appeared on screens near the synthesizers toward the back of the stage. The whole opening ceremony felt like the beginning of a hockey game, the seeming complexity of which hinted at an elaborate, tech-heavy stage show to come.
But what followed was direct and earnest. The band kicked off the show with a rousing rendition of "I'll Be All Right," and apart from some frenetic light schemes and some movement of the ever-present spheres, the effects were minimal. The most impressive moments came in the direct interaction between the band and the crowd. Angelakos hit his high notes immediately, flipping between falsetto stretches and emotive cries and encouraging the audience to provide the chorus of "oh, oh, oh."
His rapport with the audience was immediate, and it only intensified as the set wore on. The crowd of thousands appeared to be dancing as one to Nate Donmoyer's driving drum lines and Xander Singh synth lines during "The Reeling." As the globes behind the band slowly rearranged to represent stars or constellations for "Moth's Wings," Angelakos lifted the mic stand and pointed it directly toward the crowd.
The fanatic response from the crowd gave the band steam. The back-to-back renditions of "Constant Conversations," "Take a Walk" and "Cry Like a Ghost," all from 2012's Gossamer, stood as a high point of the show. "Constant Conversations," in particular, highlighted Angelakos' versatility as a vocalist. The slow ballad carried hints of a classic Marvin Gaye love song, and Angelakos filled the vocal role perfectly as he prowled back and forth across the stage. What's more, Donmoyer's drum work was spot-on and Jeff Apruzzese played dual duty between bass and synth. Angelakos took a stint on keyboard for "Eyes as Candles" before the band performed "Make Light," a new tune.
With different light schemes and the constant movement of the spheres as accompanying stagecraft, Passion Pit wrapped up the set with renditions of "Mirrored Sea" and "Sleepyhead." Mobs of dancers took over the floor in front of the stage, and the whole room rung with the sound of those singing along to the chorus.
The quintet offered a one-tune encore with "Little Secrets," a song that had the majority of the audience singing "higher and higher and higher" as one. The massive participation had a heady effect. By the time the lights came up, it was hard to believe it had only been an hour since the lights went down and the globes lit up. But it was an effect that came from a polished, emotional performance, and not from any hacky stage effects.
Continue for more on Matt & Kim's set, plus Critic's Notebook and Setlist
Earlier in the evening, Matt and Kim's breakneck set was a perfect complement to the main act. The Brooklyn-based duo set up a mood right away, coming onstage to the strains of Baauer's "Harlem Shake." The pair played in front of two large LCD screens that beamed live footage and archival footage of exotic dancers and vintage clips.
Between energetic live versions of songs like "Overexposed," "Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare" and "Ocean," the pair offered plenty of onstage antics. Matt jumped on his piano bench to stand, and Kim jumped on her bass drum to stand during song breaks. Kim donned a medical leg brace for a sprained ankle before venturing out into the audience, walking out into the crowd on dozens and dozens of proffered hands.
Personal Bias: I'm a '70s soul and R&B fanatic, so the mood and feel of "Constant Conversations" got to me good.
Random Note: A drunken dude standing near the front of the stage kept yelling "Passion Pit!!! Passion Pit!!!" over, and over, and over again. It became an in-joke for those standing in the front, spawning imitators and giggles.
By The Way: Matt of Matt & Kim claimed they had set a Guinness record for getting thousands to do the "Harlem Shake" at the same time. They were hoping to break that record in Broomfield. They took at least three breaks to dance to "Harlem Shake."
Passion Pit 1STBANK Center - 3/1/13 Broomfield, CO
I'll Be All Right The Reeling Carried Away Moth's Wings Love is Greed It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy Better Things American Blood To Kingdom Come Constant Conversations Take a Walk Cry Like a Ghost Eyes as Candles Make Light Mirrored Sea Sleepyhead
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