Phoenix & Passion Pit at Rumsey Playfield, New York, NY | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Phoenix, Passion Pit

Phoenix and Passion Pit at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield, New York, New York, September 27th, 2009

Oct 13, 2009 Photography by Laura Leebove Passion Pit
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With the French rock outfit Phoenix and the Boston-based synth-pop quintet Passion Pit on the same bill, it would never take long to start a dance party. On September 26, at the second of two sold-out New York shows, it wasn’t long before Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield became a mess of strobe lights, synthesizers, and screaming teenagers.

Passion Pit tackled most of its debut LP, Manners (Frenchkiss), a set of glitchy, anthemic, and lovelorn pop songs fronted by songwriter Michael Angelakos’ often-piercing falsetto. The 20-some-year-old danced around the stage with confidence—sometimes, maybe even too much, as he put his hands up to generate more cheers after “Sleepyhead,” the track that, since 2007, has catapulted the band from Angelakos’ ex-girlfriend’s ears to the blogosphere, MTV, Lollapalooza, and beyond. Fans knew every word, and during songs like “Let Your Love Grow Tall,” it was tough to even hear the background recording of kids singing used throughout the record.

Although Angelakos had to forgo his falsetto and take a few notes down an octave, he made up for it with his high energy. The rest of the band members—who all looked a little geek-chic—kept up with their leader by way of bleeping synths and electronics, drum-and-bass beats, and sleigh bells. Just before the last song, “The Reeling,” Angelakos self-deprecatingly said, “Thanks for putting up with us so far.” In the same vein as some of his lyrics, maybe he’s being just a little too hard on himself.

Phoenix, the more seasoned of the two groups, offered up an hour of strobe lights, fuzzed-out bass lines, droning synth chords, and clear traces of the band’s house-music influences. While about half of their 17 songs came from this year’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote/Loyaute), the guys also incorporated songs from their first three releases. Frontman Thomas Mars bounced around the stage behind multi-colored lights and white beams, often jumping up on the monitors in front of him. Like Passion Pit’s Angelakos, Mars surprisingly had a few vocal mess-ups, but they might have been due to a mistuned guitar or faulty monitors, and either way, he recovered quickly and was spot-on otherwise.

Aside from the Wolfgang blimp backdrop, touring member Thomas Hedlund’s drums were the focal point of the stage—the tiny, glittery-silver set appeared more fit for an 8-year-old—but Hedlund’s sound was bigger than it looked, especially in tracks like “Run Run Run” and “Rally.”

“For four French guys, this is amazing for us,” Mars graciously mused before the band performed an epic version of “Rome,” which had a break of “Funky Squaredance” from 2000’s United and what the band deemed “the Prince clap” in the middle of it. A cover of the French duo Air’s “Playground Love” (the track Mars sang on the soundtrack for Virgin Suicides, which his wife, Sofia Coppola, directed) highlighted the encore, along with a stripped-down and less boy-band-R&B version of “Everything is Everything” from 2004’s Alphabetical.

Near the end of the show, light rain was an unpleasant addition to what already was one of the chilliest nights New York has seen this fall, but fans continued to dance wildly in the bleachers anyway, to soak up the last of the tunes that made it still feel like summer.


Passion Pit

1. I’ve Got Your Number

2. Eyes As Candles

3. Make Light

4. Let Your Love Grow Tall

5. Little Secrets

6. To Kingdom Come

7. Folds In Your Hands

8. Moth’s Wings

9. Sleepyhead

10. Smile Upon Me

11. Better Things

12. The Reeling


1. Lisztomania

2. Long Distance Call

3. Lasso

4. Run Run Run

5. Fences

6. Girlfriend

7. Armistice

8. Love Like A Sunset Part I

9. Love Like A Sunset Part II

10. Too Young

11. Rally

12. Consolation Prizes

13. Rome/Funky Squaredance


1. Everything Is Everything

2. Playground Love

3. If I Ever Feel Better

4. 1901



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October 23rd 2009

who the hell says “blogosphere” anymore?

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