To close out my year with The House of Blues Ultimate Access Pass, I was delighted to end with a band enjoying an even more fruitful year than I, Passion Pit. First introduced to Passion Pit as on Geoff Lloyd’s HomeTime Show on Absolute Radio in London, this Boston band gained their popularity overseas before catching fire at Coachella in April. Their truly unique music harmonized by sharp high vocals makes their sound infectious; I could not wait to hear it at full blast inside the House of Blues.
After being so impressed with Pretty Lights’ lineup and lively performances just a week earlier, I expected something similar from the Passion Pit opening bands: Mister Heavenly, We Barbarians, Pepper Rabbit, and DJ M!keAttack. To my disappointment, I must say this was one of the most excruciating and mismatched openings for a show I’ve seen all year since Thrice. Local DJ M!keAttack is often spotted spinning banging hot sets all over town, tonight however he couldn’t keep it together. He would whip the crowd up to a frenzied dance then drop the beat, a few times even train-wrecking completely.
Following the introductory under par performance, We Are Barbarians took to the stage and did no better of a job getting the crowd warmed up for the show. Their mellow rock music was easy to listen to, but never really grabbed a hold of the audience, as most continued to socialize. Next up was Mr. Heavenly, who turns out is an indie supergroup consisting of members from Modest Mouse, Mad Man, Islands, and movie-star Michael Cera on bass. Their music was well-composed almost psychedelic rock, often driven by talented keyboardist and singer, Honus Honus. I could really see Mister Heavenly taking off in popularity, however tonight’s audience was still unimpressed, and not showing any love.
While awaiting Passion Pit, the House of Blues was packed wall to wall, all dying with anticipation as we drooled over their light and instrument setup. (Including several LED strips, beat machines, and six keyboards: two Nords, a Korg, Virus, Casio, Mini, and maybe a micro) At 11:15, Passion Pit opened their set blazing, jumping around stage, flashing strobe lights, with their hit Make Light. The audience quickly lit up, stopped talking, and started dancing. Despite a few technical problems with the vocals, Passion Pit played extended versions of their songs and kept the crowd clapping along to every song.
This was Passion Pit’s first stop in Las Vegas, and they gave it up playing a full setlist: Better Things, The Reeling, Moth’s Wings, To Kingdom Come, Swimming in the Flood, Let Your Love Grow Tall, Fold in your Hands, Smile Upon Me, and Little Secrets. Passion Pit graciously returned onstage, playing a little hoe-down to pass the time, while fans chanted “Sleepyhead! Sleepyhead!” In the middle of Eyes as Candles, the beat was dropped and the melody was carried along by the singing audience. Then Passion Pit treated us to a beautiful cover of The Cranberries Dreams before ending the night with Sleepyhead.
Although getting through the two hours leading up to Passion Pit was tedious at times, it was well worth it. Their show was nothing short of my expectations. I found their live sound even better than their recording, just for the rawness of the synthesizers and vocals. Be sure to check out my videos below, I caught some great footage for all three bands. Maybe next time they come to town, you will be sure to get a ticket.
Part I: We Are Barbarians, Mister Heavenly, Passion Pit, Make Light
Part II: Passion Pit, The Reeling, Little Secrets, Sleepyhead
For some close-up photographs, check out the album on Las Vegas Weekly.