In the Venue
With Mayer Hawthorn and The County, Bare Hands
When I arrived at In The Venue I was not expecting to see a giant line around the block reaching towards Mechanized. The guys, decked out in ironically funny vintage t-shirts they had carefully selected from a thrift store, overly tight pants and loafers, battled for scenester status with the ladies, sporting undone hair and some kind of leggings or stretch pants, thrifted shirts and grandma shoes. I figured hipsters like this had become more miniscule after the siege of indie rock had calmed, but I was so wrong. The doors opened up and the horde of anxious fans started to jam into the venue. I took a spot inside the bar area where it wasn't as packed, front and center and hovering above the stage. The stage itself looked completely packed with layers of instruments everywhere—I counted 11 keyboards out in the open at the beginning. I learned the opening band did not need much space to move since they didn't move much at all throughout their set.
After about a hour of waiting for sound checks and instrument adjustments, Brooklyn indie rock band Bare Hands finally started their set with a slow, eerie-yet-calming ballad. I enjoyed it. It was soothing to me as the smell of Tom’s Natural deodorant began wearing off of the crowd below. As their opening song ended the crowd seemed restless to get rowdy, so Bare Hands gave them that little extra they were looking for. The rest of their set was full of half-energetic and kinda-dancey tunes. The band sounded like a cross between The Cars and Modest Mouse, but looked like a new-age metal band, rocking cut up metal shirts and tight black pants. I wasn't expecting the goofy indie sound that came outta them. They received a very decent roar from the crowd as they ended their set and started to deconstruct their part of the stage clutter.
After another ridiculously long period of sound checks and instrument set up, The County, Mayer Hawthorne's band, came on stage. They had identical black pants, black sweaters and white-collared button-up shirts on and looked straight out of Motown. They started the set with a snappy, dancey number and Mayer Hawthorne himself jumped on stage in his gray vintage suit and immediately started singing. The upbeat number got the crowd moving immediately. Mayer Hawthorne has a set of pipes on him, hitting pitches and some serious high notes. Mid-set he took it down to a slow tempo yet still managed to get the crowd’s attention and participation on the song “I Wish It Would Rain” by having everyone in the room throw their hands up and wiggle their fingers as if they were falling rain drops. He brought the dancey tunes back and really hyped the crowd up with a cover of “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra. The crowd was pumped up and dancing to the soulful vintage tunes. He played his entire album without missing one note, and snapped a picture of the crowd at the very end of his set of the crowd. The stage once again began deconstruction of another giant load of instruments and one by one it finally cleared the space and the stage for Passion Pit.
After many slow claps and chants, the crowd insanely roared at the onstage appearance of Passion Pit. Behind the band and main singer Michael Angelakos were massive light fixtures and strobes all over the stage to enhance the electronic movement and provide the perfect dance-enhancing environment for the crowd. The entire floor was clapping, dancing and singing along with every word. Angelakos looked pretty subtle in a white collared shirt, sweater vest, loafers and messy hair, pacing around on stage as he sang and held the mic outwards to get everyone shouting lyrics with him. His vocals were high-pitched, off-key squeals over a sea of synthesizers, keyboards and strobe lights on stage. During the song “Little Secrets” the entire room was screaming “Higher Higher Higher”and clapping to the breakdowns. The cover of the Cranberries song “Dreams” sealed the deal and the show in its entirety was a massive success and crowd pleaser, but the crowd didn't really go nuts though until the encore performance when Passion Pit played “Sleepy Head.” It’s clear why this group sells out almost every city they play.