July 1, 2010

Passion Pit: Electric Feelings

Passion Pit were smoking at Mann Music Center last weekend.
Photos/Article by Scott Frost
PHILADELPHIA - Cash was flying at Passion Pit's show at the Mann Music Center on June 27. And that's probably because the Massachusetts' synth-rock outfit were money.
"Seriously you should be throwing twenties," said Michael Angelakos when a few dollar bills hit the stage a few songs into the set. He gave the money back to some lad in the front row.
Later on, more money continued to hit the singer.
"This is embarrassing," he said. "You make me feel like a stripper."
It was Passion Pit's second show in Philly. And it should be noted that while the band was selling out mid-size venues last summer in New York while establishing themselves as future festival party starters - they played a 7 p.m. at Coachella in April (sorry guys, was watching The Specials) - Passion Pit were packing the tiny First Unitarian Church. Heard it was an intimate show.
"We never played a venue like this before," Angelakos gushed.
"This is ridiculous," he said later on. "We played the basement of a church last time."
The Mann is one of the biggest venues in the city and is only open during the summer. They have a great lineup this summer, too. Seeing Faith No More there on Saturday. Totally phyched!
Shameless plug!
OK, back to the show!
The band's set was electric. No one stayed in their seat, as the aisles were filled with dancers whose gyrations ignored the fact that it was a sticky night in Philly with temperatures into the '80s with a humidity level that causes beads of sweat to Doppler all into you liquid refreshments. It poured during the set, but nobody noticed. Concertgoers only cared about the lightning - the strobes, sick light show and smoke - happening on the stage.
Passion Pit played nearly the entire "Manners" LP with the highlight coming in closer "Little Secrets." Even by then it was hard to find anyone not in full party mode, as they belted the "Higher and Higher" refrain.
Kicking myself for leaving after that song, as the guys - according to internet reports - played a cover of The Cranberries "Dreams." Did hear "Sleepy Head" while walking to the car.
Tokyo Police Club opened, and were awesome as usual. "Champ" is the Canadian rockers' sophomore record. It's in heavy rotation right now. It seemed that the guys got the open-band treatment as their garage-rock shuffles were turned up a bit too loud. Still, a solid performance, but not as good as a similar set from Coachella - which was an awesome main stage daytime set to say the least. A day later TPC featured the single "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)" on "Late Night With David Letterman."

Silversun Pickups - Swooning

Silversun Pickups bass player Nikki Monninger smiles during the L.A. band's set in Brooklyn June 25.
Photos/Article by Scott Frost
BROOKLYN, NY - One thing is for sure, even after a Grammy nomination and two highly successful records, Silversun Pickups bass player Nikki Monninger never seems to feel comfortable living in her own skin let alone being this indie-alternative heart throb.
Meek and mild and bashful a bit as photographers snapped her photo during the band's exhilarating set at the Williamsburg Waterfront on June 25, Monninger - in a powder blue baby-doll dress and ruby slippers - popped a few smiles for the camera that were less about posing and more a symbol of embarrassment.
Yet when it was her time to talk, the bassist turned to a joke.
"Is there an animal doctor here?" she asked the crowd. "Because these pythons are sick."
Monninger then flexed her muscles - or skinny little arms from our vantage point - like the Hulkster of years past.
It was a funny moment and one of only a few stoppages in music for the California band. Singer Brian Aubert noted that it was only the second time playing New York. The last must have been when they opened for Muse at Madison Square Garden. But after a few songs Monninger got her groove on and started flopping her hair and rocking her body back and forth.
It was a tight set consisting of most of the songs off "Swoon" and selected pieces from "Carnavas" - including the set closing 2008 Fox Baseball Playoffs theme song, "Lazy Eye." The encore was a nice touch, with two hidden gems, and fan favorites, off both records.
Here's the setlist:
Growing Old Is Getting Old
Well Thought Out Twinkles
Sort Of
There's No Secrets This Year
The Royal We
Little Lover's So Polite
It's Nice To Know You Work Alone
Future Foe Scenarios
Kissing Families
Catch and Release
Panic Switch
Lazy Eye
Common Reactor

On the Beat: July 1-7

Las Vegas smash-up impersonators Metal Elvis headline The Record Collector (358 Farnsworth Ave., Bordentown) Thursday night, July 1.
The Vegas strip showmen jailhouse rock-it with a big hunk ’o love of an Elvis impersonator singing the King’s classics over ’80s and ’90s hair metal. Metal Elvis – karate kicking into The Record Collector (358 Farnsworth Ave., Bordentown) tonight – is the name of the band, not the singer. In fact the show also stars a Peter Criss copycat on drums and Slash wannabe on guitar. A video found on their web site shows a live video clip of Elvis pointing and shuffling to Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher,” before smashing in some “Blue Suede Shoes.” They have ballads, too. “Love Me Tender” mixed with “Sweet Child of Mine” is also a concert staple. The show – a warm-up date for the group’s Atlantic City gig tomorrow night - starts at 7:30. Tickets cost $12 in advance, $15 at the door. All-ages. The city rockers’ working-class rasps and melody-enriched punk-rock edge nicely fits in the new wave of Garden State bands right now defining the “Jersey sound.” With Hot Water Music and a library of classic fiction as its muse, the former Roskoes have officially hit their stride this summer with an EP, “The Way Things Swell,” produced by The Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf, scheduled to drop on July 13. They’re spending the week trying out new material on ready-to-rock crowds in New Brunswick, Philly and Brooklyn – with a hometown throw-down set for the Mill Hill Basement (300 S. Broad St., Trenton) tomorrow night. Show starts at 9. Florida’s Spanish Gamble (Paper + Plastick Records!), Scranton’s Fake Estate and local punk-rock playmakers Downbound City (The Frantic, Break Away) and Nick Harris & The American Drug (The Ruining, Checkers NJ) play, too. Tickets cost $5. 21-plus. The Rochester outfit can get straight up gloomy with its piano-led chamber pop. “4 Legs Good, 2 Legs Better” – a sure riot starter at Championships Sports Bar and Grill (931 Chambers St., Trenton) tomorrow night – bites in a Ben Folds-scoring-a-vampire-musical-sort-of-way. Show starts at 9. The Reverend Christopher Eissing, The Wilson Family Forgery, The Smoking Jackets and Swift Robinson round out the bill. Tickets cost $8. 21-plus.
Drew’s Farm
The cover band plays McGuinn’s Place (1781 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence) tomorrow night. Show starts at 9. Tickets cost $5. 21-plus.
The Maine-born, Bob Dylan-inspired folk singer has won 14 Boston Music Awards over his 16-album career. In the late ’80s he was a regular of the Cambridge, Mass., coffeehouse scene where Shawn Colvin and Dar Williams made their start. He’s also friends with folk radical Vance Gilbert, who headlined The Record Collector (358 Farnsworth Ave., Bordentown) in March. Both explore the issues of race in their songwriting. Tomorrow night it’s Paul’s turn to headline the quaint local venue. Show starts at 7:30. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $18 at the door. All-ages. The North Jersey rockers helped We The Kings score some cash on the MTV game show “Silent Library” by keeping their cool as singer Travis Clark was forced to hold a tongue depressor way down his throat for 20 seconds. Yeah, bands this good will do anything for a buck. Even play snuggly pop-rock songs like “Right Back Down” about sweetening-up chicks with a sunset walk on the boardwalk with the agenda to bang them later. They’ll use their meat hooks to score at The Court Tavern (124 Church St., New Brunswick) tomorrow night. Show starts at 8. The Bad Notes, American Living and The Night Life play, too. Tickets cost $8. 21-plus. The Sayreville band’s “The Rise and Fall of Progress” EP slips in-between aggro styles – melting multi-layered melodic choruses that go acoustic from time to time, monstrous break-downs and shout-y vocal shoves they say is inspired by The Deftones and Glassjaw. For fans of Far and Fall Of Troy. The trio joins a host of punk and metal bands for Championships Sports Bar and Grill’s (931 Chambers St., Trenton) “Punk Rock BBQ” Saturday afternoon. Show starts at noon. Final Summation, The Forum Walters, The Disappointments, Stomping Ground, Factor X, Animal Train, FreeDoom, The Choices, Bildo & The Reacharounds, The Brain Farts, Robbin’ The Nak and Raised By Wolves round out the bill. Tickets cost $10. 21-plus.
Sonically storming synths, at-the-moment improvisations and trance-inducing guitar frolics make this jam-band one of the best bands around town to boogie down to. They’ll trip the light fantastic at McGuinn’s Place (1781 Brunswick Pike, Lawrence) Saturday night. Show starts at 9. Tickets cost $5. 21-plus. The Floridians’ clap-along passion punk is a spirited mix of Avail and The Menzingers. They’ll open for New Brunswick’s Let Me Run – who recently released its “Broken Strings” EP and often cover Samiam - at The Court Tavern (124 Church St., New Brunswick) Saturday night. Show starts at 8. The Banquets and The Great Explainer play, too. Tickets cost $8. 21-plus.
The Long Islanders’ style-conscious teen-pop sounds like All Time Low. We think. Don’t listen to that crap. Don’t hang out at malls either. But do ride roller coasters at Six Flags and always hear this kind of music pumping out of the speakers when waiting in line for El Toro. So the foursome will fit right in at Six Flag’s Great Adventure’s (1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson) Live & Local stage Saturday night, where they’re playing with Taking To Walls. Show starts at 6:30. Free with admission to the park. All-ages.
Guitarist Al Schnier once described his Buffalo band as “an amalgamation of a wide variety of the history of rock, all regurgitated and recycled through the eyes, ears, hands, whatever of the guys in our band and all of that with a sense of adventure, a sense of humor, also a constant desire to push the envelope. All in this arena of taking chances, improvising live, and making things up on the spot." Head-y stuff, right? We just call it jam music. The band celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its moe.down festival in Upstate New York this September with Built To Spill and The Black Keys. A much-miniaturized version hits the beaches of Asbury Park Sunday night for its annual 4th of July bash at the Stone Pony Summerstage (Ocean Avenue). The Mike Montrey Band and Lemon Juice open. Show starts at 5. Tickets cost $30 in advance, $35 at the door. All-ages. The Columbia-based rockers open for the fireworks at Six Flag’s Great Adventure’s (1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson) Live & Local stage Sunday night. Show starts at 6:30. Free with admission to the park. All-ages. The city deejay crew’s electro blends of house and techno stay steady, steady pounding at The BT Bistro (3499 US 1, Princeton) every Wednesday night. Sets start at 9. Tony Handle mans the ones-and-twos, too. Free. 21-plus.
Scott Frost’s On The Beat concert listing appears in The Trentonian and at www.trentonian.com every Thursday. If your band is playing around town, email the On the Beat web line at djscott111@aol.com.