Joy and Passion in the Pit

00:00 October 17, 2013
By: Greg Roques
[Courtesy of Greg Roques]
Passion Pit at the Hangout Music Festival 2013

Indie-rock torchbearers of the moment Passion Pit electrified the stage at the Civic with the help of openers The Joy Formidable this past Friday, October 11. Having re-opened only a short while ago, The Civic is proving to be the place to catch today's most talked about alt. rock acts.

The Joy Formidable was the band I went to see Friday evening. Though svelte, their opening set captured all the highnotes from their recent sophomore effort Wolf's Law, as well as their breakthrough EP The Big Roar. The Joy Formidable's sound has a dark, dreamy quality to it; picture a mashup of Metric and the Silversun Pickups, but heavier, edgier with some electronica thrown in. Their sound is distinguishable among the endless, assembly-line output of electro-shoegaze bands at the moment, thanks mostly to lead vocalist Rhiannon Bryan. I've always felt female lead vocalists are under-utilized in alternative rock, truly lending a unique sound and presence to a band. Bryan's vocals are ghostly and dwelling, amplifying her brooding lyrics and casting a dark cloud over the bands already distressed instrumentals.

Again, while their set was far shorter than I would have liked, the band thrashed through the choice notes of their catalog, including openers "This Ladder is Ours" and "Austere", as well as Cradle, a few new tracks from Wolf's Law, and personal favorites "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade" and "Whirring."

As for Passion Pit, this was my third time seeing them this year, and the second time in New Orleans (the first being Buku Music + Art Experience here back in March, and the later at Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores). This performance was by far their most polished and energetic of the three. I must confess that I am a fair-whether fan of Passion Pit. I am as susceptible to their infectious singles as anyone else - "Take A Walk," "Little Secrets" and "Sleepyhead" are playlist constants - but have never been moved to explore their work beyond the hits.This past performance, however, gave me the final push I needed to immerse myself more in this band.

What separated this show from the others? The Civic. When I pay to see a concert, I don't just pay to hear the music - I expect a show. Not only did both of these bands bring the noise and bring it hard, they were backed by an eye-scorchingly animated light and stage show. Neither of these acts is well-known enough to be an arena bands, and would not have had the space or resources to put on a show this seismic in a smaller venue, making The Civic the glass slipper with the perfect fit.

If you missed this show and enjoy dreamy, electronic-singed indie rock, I highly recommend you check both of these bands out. And if you've yet to see a concert at the Civic yet,their upcoming calendar can be found here:

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