The Campus Consciousness Tour (CCT) stopped in DeKalb a few days ago with a show featuring Passion Pit, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and K. Flay. Here is what the CCT says they are about, according to their website:
Half rock tour, half environmental campaign, CCT aims to inspire and activate students in an electric atmosphere while leaving a positive impact on each community the tour visits. In addition to educating and mobilizing students, the tour includes many greening elements and is run to have a minimal environmental footprint.
Here’s what I actually saw: Three booths. One for registering to vote, one about going green, and one with no one sitting there, so I’m not sure what it was about. Also, apparently, the way they are leaving a minimal environmental footprint is by not allowing anyone to take pictures at the shows. I’m not sure how that works. And I’m also not sure that this tour understands the demographic it’s marketing to. Young people need to take pictures at events like this. It’s what they do. We live our lives online, so we need the pictures to show our friends in Germany and Kalamazoo what an awesome time we had.
I had a press pass for the show, and I was approached by three people about taking pictures. One woman told me she was going to have to confiscate my camera. Even after I told her I had a pass, she didn’t want me to keep the camera. The whole thing was a joke. I saw at least seven people have their cameras taken away.
So that’s the Campus Consciousness Tour. Now let’s get on to the good stuff.
K. Flay is a self-proclaimed “indie rock meets hip-hop” act. She uses a Macbook and a synthesizer to make her beats come alive on stage. She was much better than I thought she might be. Her raps were intelligent, and she had a really nice flow. Anyone who went to the Emily Wells show at Schubas a few weeks ago has kind of an idea what K. Flay might be like. No violin, but pretty similar.
Second to the stage was Black Joe Lewis, and his band, The Honeybears. These guys are a blues outfit from Austin. Imagine, if you will, the power of Otis Redding, the funk/pop and soul sensibility of Sam and Dave and the swagger of The Rolling Stones. Now you have a pretty good idea about this group. I thought they were awesome.
And I was surprised the audience got into the music as much as they did. The demographic in the audience was about as diverse as the one in my apartment. White people everywhere. And young. So being able to get that group frenzied about the blues was impressive in itself. Also, they covered a song by the Stooges. Not a lot of blues bands playing Stooges covers, I wouldn’t think.
By the time Passion Pit took the stage, the roof had already been torn off by Black Joe Lewis, so they were stuck playing to the heavens. A tall order for sure, but I thought if anyone could pull it off, it’s Passion Pit.
And I was wrong. The style of music Passion Pit plays is hard to translate live. Especially if the lead singer is feeling ill, or has a cold. So much of the sound is based on his voice, that even the slightest bit off can ruin the show.
The show wasn’t horrible. For the most part I enjoyed them onstage. Which is more than I can say for Micheal Angelakos. I didn’t see him smile once. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves quite a bit, though. The girls in front of us were screaming at the guitar player to marry them (or at least come over) and he was laughing a lot.
We got to stand right up in the front. So did everyone else in attendance. There were maybe 500 people at the show, in a place that could easily hold three times that. I understand that DeKalb isn’t the coolest place on Earth, but come on kids. You’re in college. You should be having fun, going to shows like Passion Pit.
Of the 500 people in attendance, 400 were on the floor. For the most part people seemed to be having a good time. The only parts of the show where the excitement was palpable, though, were when the band played “Sleepyhead” and “The Reeling.” For the rest of the concert people were head-bobbing, not dancing like I assumed they would be.
I think it’s probably not for me to say, but Passion Pit needs a break. Have you heard their record? I couldn’t even fathom trying to play music like that every night. And trying to sing with that super high falsetto? Forget about it. I honestly think that Passion Pit needs to rearrange their show a little. They may end up like the Beatles in 1967 and just decide that there’s no way what they can do on an album can be done live and just stop touring all together.
I hope that isn’t the case, of course. But they really do need to do something. On Chunk of Change and Manners, there’s an energy that doesn’t show up in the live show, although they try their best to force it. In the end it’s just a bunch of sweaty guys singing songs that sound better in my car.
- For more on Passion Pit, check out my review of their album Manners.
- Manners is available on Passion Pit’s website for $9.99 (mp3s).
- Chunk of Change is available on iTunes for $5.99 (mp3s).
Passion Pit performing “I Got Your Number”