The Best and Worst of Nemo
by Tom Doherty (Journalism), published February 13th 2013
It was an eventful week in Boston. Not only did that snowy beast dubbed ‘Nemo’ bury the city and its residents’ cars in two feet of white powder, but The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and Emerson-borne Passion Pit all tore through, leaving mainstream indie fans feeling content amid the blizzard.
For your sake, dear reader, I went to all three shows. If you couldn’t make it, here’s the best and worst from the week. Feel free to live vicariously.
1. Passion Pit with Matt & Kim at Agganis Arena, Feb. 10th
Originally scheduled for Saturday, February 9th, Passion Pit’s first show in Boston since the release of their second LP, Gossamer, was pushed back just one night—probably enough time for the T to get back up and running, right? Wrong.
If Passion Pit alone doesn’t whet your (clearly insatiable) appetite for indie-pop, Matt & Kim opened with a set of their own. The duo showed off their unrivaled energy, regularly abandoning drums and keys to jump around on stage and even dancing on the hands of the crowd. “Let’s just make it weird tonight,” yelled vocalist Matt Johnson before galvanizing the crowd with anthemic hits like “Daylight,” “Let’s Go” and “Now.”
As fun as Matt & Kim were, Passion Pit was even better. Although troubled singer Michael Angelakos and his bandmates have had their share of much-publicized live issues, the postponed performance was a success. With a solid balance of songs from debut album Manners and follow-up Gossamer, the band played hit after hit, more than making up for being the antithesis to Matt & Kim’s unbridled vigor.
Before leaving, Angelakos promised to come back to Boston soon for those who couldn’t make it Sunday night. You can bet on me going to that show, too.
2. Mumford & Sons at TD Garden, Feb. 5th
The immensely popular folk group kicked off their US tour in front of a sold-out crowd at the home of the Celtics and Bruins. Babel and the band as a whole have received plenty of criticism for an unwillingness to deviate from their usual song construction, and that criticism is certainly well founded. Despite winning the Grammy for album of the year (as if that actually means something), the repetitive nature of their songs is wearing and makes Babel a disappointing listen, but the formula works for live shows.
Each song reaches a climax that had the audience jumping and singing along— exhausting, but undeniably fun. After the main set, Mumford & Sons changed things up by moving the performance to a tiny stage with one microphone in the middle of the floor where they played a toned down version of “Reminder” and non-album track “Sister.” The show was exciting, and both the audience and Marcus Mumford gave it their all.
3. The Lumineers at House of Blues, Feb. 4th
I was excited for this concert, but putting it under “best” might actually be a little too generous. This is probably due more to the audience than anything else. Following a massive hit in “Ho Hey,” The Lumineers quickly gained a strong following and, based on the crowd at the House of Blues, it seems plenty of these new-found followers didn’t care to delve any deeper into the band’s work. Hell, “Stubborn Love” is a popular song, but even those lyrics were mangled by the concert-goers attempting to sing along.
To make matters worse, The Lumineers were all too aware (or proud) of this; they played “Ho Hey” twice. But frontman Wesley Schultz’s voice and the band’s contagious onstage vitality carried the performance on their shoulders and into this category.
1. The MBTA
“I bet you get less than eight inches,” said a friend who now goes to school in Arizona. He was wrong.
“The T will be totally fine by Sunday.” That was me. I was wrong, too.
Nemo not only moved the Passion Pit show back one night, but when devastatingly coupled with the archaic MBTA, it also forced me to trudge through snow banks and slush to get to Agganis Arena. Speaking of which…
2. Agganis Arena
The show was great; the venue, not so much. It was not so bad as to detract from Passion Pit’s performance, but the arena’s sheer size did affect their opener: Matt & Kim’s energy didn’t get the reception it deserved. Agganis’ size problem was compounded by the fact that many had trouble getting to the venue. During Matt & Kim’s opening set, the crowd was sparse and those that were there were split between sitting and standing.
The awkwardness was only exacerbated by the odd partition of the floor. It was split into two separate standing areas, resulting in a large gap of empty space between those at the foot of the stage and the group stuck behind a makeshift divider halfway down the floor. At least the seats surrounding the floor were mostly full when Passion Pit played.
3. “Ho Hey”
They played it twice. Come on.
-(Photo Credit to Michel Dussack @ Nonstop Sound)