Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ordinary Event on Hamilton Place

Local radio station WFNX dubbed last night's Spoon/Phoenix/Passion Pit show at the Orpheum Theater "Miracle on Tremont Street." I suppose this was intended to be a play on "Miracle on 34th Street," it being Christmas season and all. Well, the Orpheum is actually on Hamilton Place, just off of Tremont Street, and in reality, the show was nothing special.

Passion Pit is pretty much the undisputed hottest local act in Boston right now. The winners of four "in Boston" categories in The Phoenix's Best Music Poll for 2009 (Best Album, Local Act, Male Vocalist and Song) opened last night's show with a highly recognizable set of songs from their award-winning album Manners. Their brand of '80s inspired synth-pop played out almost as good live as it does on record, but the sound left a little to be desired—as it often does with opening bands—and their set was somewhat brief. I do have one piece of advice for Passion Pit front-man Michael Angelakos, though. If we've learned anything from Jon Anderson, it's that male lead vocalists should either play an instrument or else have a knack for on-stage performance. Otherwise, they just come across as a little...let's call it less-than-manly.

Phoenix's performance was the highlight of the evening for me, although when they opened with "Lisztomania," the opening track from their latest album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, I was afraid I was going to have to suffer through an entire set of singalongs with the annoying college girls to my left. A couple songs later, though, I really came to appreciate "Lasso" as one of the show's highlights and possibly the best track on the album. My favorite moment of the whole night turned out to be a surprising one, and somewhat contrary to what I said a couple of sentences ago. I returned from getting KJ a bottled water as the band played their final, and most recognizable, song. Listening to the crowd chant the chorus to "1901" in unison, I suddenly felt overcome with the desire to go out and buy a Cadillac.

Spoon's set was solid, but there was something about it that just seemed less than inspired. Honestly, I came away from the show realizing that this is a band that was meant to play rock clubs. There's a certain pecking order to the Boston concert scene, and once an artist graduates from the Paradise/Middle East downstairs level—venues with capacities in the 550 to 650 range—they’re generally not worth seeing after that, although it sometimes takes a show like last night's to drive that point home. I'm sure I've made that statement, or something similar to it, quite a few times before, so I'll refrain from harping on it.

Overall, I give last night's show a respectable B-minus. It's just that, for such a highly anticipated triple-bill, it fell considerably short of being worthy of comparison to one of the most successful Christmas movies of all-time.


  1. Nearly completely agree- though Spoon playing the Roxy (bigger than MidEast, right?) was a great show, and despite being old enough to like a seat, I wish more bands were playing there instead of at Orpheum.

  2. Yeah, it's definitely bigger when they don't close off the upstairs part. I hear you about the pros of seeing certain bands in the standing room only rock club venues. As you know, I'm definitely old enough to appreciate a seat, though.