Jesse and I took in Passion Pit and COIN at the NorVa this Sunday. Here is our conversation review.
Jesse: Was a pleasure checking out the show with you, Ashley! Let’s start with the opener, COIN. Were you previously familiar with their music? Did they win you over?
Ashley: Always a pleasure hanging out with you Jesse! COIN was awesome! Yesterday was the first I had heard of them and they most definitely won me over. They have a really positive vibe and put on a great show. I was super stoked on the bright synth sounds and 80’s dance groove on their song “Better” and the driving rhythm guitar/ bouncy beat of their song “Run.” There is a really amazing blend happening between the instruments and the lead vocals and it is totally danceable. It reminds me of indie dance rock from the early/mid 2000s, which I love. Also two of the 4 members of the band have curly hair so I feel a certain camaraderie that I really can’t explain to a straight haired person such as yourself.
Plus when I signed up for the mailing list I got a free temporary tattoo that says “Run” in the drummer’s father’s handwriting. I’m a sucker for stories like that.
The funniest moment of the night for me was when I mentioned the lead singer kind of looked like Anthony Michael Hall, and you responded that he looked like Anthony Michael Hall crossed with Rock-A-Doodle. Just had to give you props for that. Funny cause it’s true.
When I was little I used to worry that they–being the music industry, I guess–would run out of new songs to create because they’d all be used up. While I was into COIN, particularly “Better,” nothing struck me as entirely original. They sounded a bit like Coldplay meets Passion Pit. Is comparing a band to Coldplay an insult or compliment? I don’t know anymore.
What’d you think of their stage presence?
You can always count on me for obscure movie references from our collective childhood.
I totally get what you are saying about fearing that musicians will run out of new songs to create. There is the old idea that nothing is new, everything has really already been done in some capacity. It’s rare that I get my mind blown, although it does still happen, and even then those bands have obvious influences. That said, I have accepted that not every work of art or music needs to take me to a new intellectual level and some things can just be fun. COIN was fun. Their stage presence was high energy and inviting, they were clearly enjoying themselves, they seemed to like each other and they were very appreciative of the Norfolk crowd. Those kinds of things are important to the experience for me at this point and I had a great time during their set. “Blessed” and “Run” are definitely going to be added to my dance playlists, and I know you haven’t seen me this morning but my hair has just a touch more Rock-A-Doodle than yesterday.
You really think they sound like Coldplay? I don’t see it at all, although admittedly I’ve been ignoring Coldplay since 2006. That should maybe answer whether or not I think comparing a band to Coldplay is a compliment, at least in my crochety world. I would definitely say Phoenix + Passion Pit though.
What’d you think of the crowd last night?
I enjoyed the crowd, lots of energy, more than willing to sing along. Someone blew up condoms and some point and floated them over the crowd. I haven’t seen that in a while. Subliminal endorsement of safe sexual practices is always a plus.
I had a couple of my concert pet peeves happen around me—a group that had somehow surrounded me that wouldn’t stop chatting about things that had nothing to do with the show. Five people, tickets were about $40… $200 is a lot of money to pay for an interesting backdrop to your bullshitting with your friends. But they were Navy, and if I was stuck on a boat and then released back to civilization I’d probably be pretty chatty too.
The other thing is the filming of songs at a concert, which is just too absurd, and led me to post the following on the AltDaily Facebook page that night:
Tips for people shooting video on your cell phones at a concert: 1. What you’re shooting is horrible. We can see it. 2. You’ll never watch this again. 3. Like, evvvver. 4. You’re annoying the people behind you. 5. For no good reason other than to prove you are where you know you are. 6. So stop filming. Enjoy the show, yo.
I am guilty of taking several ten second poorly composed videos last night because I had a buzz and suck with song names and I wanted to be able to reference certain ones in talking to you… and document the condoms.
Enough of me being the oldest, orneriest man. Passion Pit came out strong with “1985” and “Little Secrets.” They’re such an interesting band to me. Their songs are soooo upbeat, but also seem to be mostly about overcoming depression. What’s their appeal to you?
To return the favor one of my favorite points of the evening is when you leaned over to me during “Take a Walk” and said “This song is about taking a walk.” Seriously though the band does offer a unique juxtaposition of dark lyrics with upbeat music. Like “The Reeling,” it compels me to dance but the lyrics are so sad! He wishes his life didn’t have to be this way and he wishes someone would come to kidnap him and take him away from it all. You could almost feel guilty having a good time dancing to it, except his physical performance also contrasts with the lyrics. Soooo…fuck it. At the core I am a sucker for synthy dance pop.
The opening verse from Passion Pit’s opening song, off their new album:
Tell me what does it take to make good now How many years do you wait? Oh, and now all of the clouds are combining The flickering light’s just a flame Oh but yeah, I’m so tired I’ve been away for so many years But I guess I’ll just wait a bit longer I’ll stay ’til they open the gates.
I love, love, love this music, but, at its core, it seems to be about helping middle class kids feel happier about their (seemingly awfully cushy) existences. Do you get this feeling?
I don’t really get the feeling that it’s meant to make middle class kids feel better about their cushy existence as much as its about Michael Angelakos working through his own stuff… maybe you’re projecting.
That makes more sense.
Maybe I’m just so comfortable with my own middle class upbringing that shit don’t phase me.
The juxtapositions are great. How amazing is it to stand in front of 750 people singing about wanting to be alone?
And dancing around looking like you are having a great time singing about praying to god that the next day will be your last.
What’s your first take on Passion Pit’s new album?
My first take on the new album is that it is both brighter sounding and mellower than much of the older stuff. Less danceable tracks. Lyrically I think he’s getting closer to self acceptance…which is what is supposed to happen in your 30’s right?
He’s 27 but close enough.
For more of the NorVa, click here.