UPAC Concerts hosted their spring concert February 12 at the Houston Field House, cosponsoring with WEQX. It was the first Field House show since Fall Out Boy headlined in May 2009, and for many, the first opportunity to shuffle out onto dusty cardboard sheets laid on top of the ice.
Indie rock couple Matt & Kim opened with a hyper-energetic set, getting the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night. Their setup is simple: a guy, a girl, a keyboard, a drumset, some vocals, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Matt & Kim were last in the area for last fall’s Pearl Palooza in Albany, and the audience who rushed the stage and sang along seemed familiar with them. The duo performed songs from their most recent album Lightning, including the catchy “Let’s Go” and “It’s Alright,” as well as a few of their older hits like “Daylight.” The best part about Matt & Kim’s set was the personal manner in which they engaged with the audience, making the tightly-packed floor feel like a much smaller show.
Partway through their set, the duo announced that they were making their own version of the “Harlem Shake” video, and invited the audience to “get freaky!” when the beat dropped. The crowd obliged. The end result? Their Youtube video has picked up 350,000 views in the first 24 hours. (Search for “Harlem Shake (Matt and Kim edition)” if you still haven’t seen it. But if you are affiliated with RPI, chances are you have already seen this video reposted on Facebook at least a dozen times.)
Crowdsurfing seemed to be the event of the evening, as two or three people seemed to be floating above the audience’s heads at any given time for the rest of the night. Those who reached the front of the crowd were carted off by dour-faced concert security. Jostling, fistpumping, jumping, dancing; there was never a dull moment.
By the time Passion Pit took the stage, the floor was packed. They kicked things off with “I’ll be Alright,” the second single from their most recent album, Gossamer, the source for nearly the entire set. The boisterous mood accompanying Matt & Kim gradually calmed down, as the audience morphed into a swaying, dancing mass of people. The audience bobbed and sang along as the band powered through songs like “The Reeling,” “Constant Conversations,” and “Mirrored Sea.”
Known for their smooth electropop sound and high-pitched vocals, Passion Pit live was a very different experience than their recordings. Every instrument could be heard in its own right, and while the keyboards still created their signature sound and lead vocalist Michael Angelakos’ voice was slightly modulated, the overall result was richer than the heavily-produced sounds on the album. But isn’t finding all those differences the best part of a live show? After all, who would want to just go to a giant listening party?
Passion Pit changed up their show by visually expressing the mood of the songs they performed. Round paper lanterns were raised and lowered, lighting up in different colors. Before they launched into last summer’s “Take a Walk,” the band exhorted the entire crowd to raise their hands as a bubble machine fired up, sending millions of bubbles across the Field House as the floor jumped up to try to catch some. The night wrapped up with energetic renditions of their most well-known songs, “Little Secrets” and an encore of “Sleepyhead.”
Overall, this show could be a fresh start for the long tradition of spring concerts, after last April’s abrupt cancellation by Vanessa Carlton and a few shows at the much-smaller East Campus Athletic Village. Here’s to hoping that it only gets better from here on out.
On Monday night, the rink at the Houston Field House was filled with hundreds of fans rather than the usual ice and hockey players. Students and locals lined up around the Field House for a night of music from Matt & Kim and Passion Pit on one of the first few stops of their combined tour.
Matt & Kim, who had recently headlined Pearl Fest in the fall, were up first and put on a phenomenal opening act. Matt & Kim played several of their most popular songs as well as some of the ones off of their new album, Lightning. Immediately the crowd was moving as people were jumping up and down to “Block After Block.” Matt & Kim, who are known for their amazing stage presence, didn’t waste any time getting the crowd involved. Earlier in the evening Matt & Kim had filmed themselves dancing alone in the arena in order to create their very own “Harlem Shake” video using the audience. Matt put a box on his head, started the track, and proceeded to dance as the crowd went wild. The set continued with several newer songs like “Now” and “Let’s Go.” Eventually, Kim stepped down off her drum set and started to strap on a boot cast. Meanwhile, Matt announced that Kim had recently injured her ankle while texting and walking down the stairs. Kim wouldn’t let that keep her from walking out on to the hands of audience members and dance. Matt & Kim rounded out their set with “Lessons Learned.” Their usual ending, “Daylight,” was played earlier in the set.
Passion Pit soon took the stage for an already excited crowd. Interestingly enough, Passion Pit also had a relatively recent local show as well. This past April, they played a show at Upstate Concert Hall during their tour for their new album, Gossamer. Now that the album was out, they were ready to play. Passion Pit’s stage set up alone was amazing. There were several white orbs hanging above them and at the front corners of the stage, Once the music began, the orbs began to bounce and glow, creating an amazing atmosphere. Songs from Passion Pit’s set include “Mirrored Sea,” “Little Secrets,” “Moth Wings,” and “Take a Walk.” During “Take a Walk,” the arena was filled with bubbles as they began shooting out from behind the on-stage orbs. The crowd was blown away by the experience. Unfortunately, during some of the songs, it was difficult to hear lead singer Michael Angelakos. Some of the high notes were drowned out by the loud bass at the show making some of the lyrics hard to hear or make out. Still, the crowd cheered for an encore, and Passion Pit delivered. Taking the stage for one more song, they played their most popular single, “Sleepyhead,” and the crowd was ecstatic.
The music was great, the stage effects were exciting, and the stage presences of the two bands were absolutely amazing. The show was certainly one you didn’t want to miss and it was all made possible by Vermont-based radio station 102.7 WEQX and UPAC Concerts. Videos of Matt & Kim’s “Harlem Shake” and photos throughout the night can be found on the bands Facebook page and the Facebook event page respectively.