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Nutshell Concert Review: Passion Pit – Summerset Music Festival 8/10/13

Photo courtesy of Ryan Siverson, mezzic.com

Photo courtesy of Ryan Siverson, mezzic.com

It’s already been more than a year since the release of GossamerPassion Pit’s successful and satisfying sophomore LP. Since then, they have commanded both outdoor festivals and indoor venues with their live show, captivating audiences with their exciting, dance-worthy synth pop and impressive light shows. After missing the opportunity (twice) to see them in a local show, I decided it would be fitting to drive 7+ hours to Somerset, Wisconsin to watch the somewhat out of place cardigan and skinny jean wearing indie band play at a blooming EDM festival in the rural north. Yes, I acknowledge the fact that they will be performing at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival in a couple of weeks, but the latter of the two options doesn’t also include awesome experiences like seeing STS9’s anger over a man pretending to be a part of their group, and seeing STRFKR perform their version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.

But I digress.

There’s a strange thing to be said about Passion Pit’s live performance: Passion Pit doesn’t quite sound like the “Passion Pit” you would expect to hear when putting on your iPod. This is not by any means a knock on the band; these guys are just very notable for doing things in studio that may be much more challenging to replicate live than one would assume. But the Passion Pit that you do see when they step on stage is still an amazing one. They exhibit a totally new form of power that you don’t really notice in their compressed and electronic dream world that goes through your headphones. But when you amplify that through giant speakers, and combine it with the force of a bass driven live drum kit, flashy lights, and frontman Michael Angelakos jumping around like a goofy little kid, it turns into a totally different listening experience.

With that in mind, it would be hard to imagine that Gossamer track “I’ll Be Alright” would be anything short of electrifying, and opening with that kind of energy can only give you momentum. They managed to keep it throughout the entire hour-long set, even after taking a break for the smooth and almost R&B-like “Constant Conversations”. Angelakos also seemed to be working at his prime, reminding the audience consistently that they were there to sing, dance, and have an all around good time.

Passion Pit was able to do an interesting and bold thing last weekend when they performed to a crowd that was there, ultimately, to see EDM. Although they don’t totally stray from the genre, they are a far cry from other Summerset acts like Flosstradamus and Minnesota. But they came out to brave the rage-sticks and ravers to put on one heck of a show, and for that I thank them. For those of you lucky enough to have Passion Pit hit your town before their tour ends, be sure to check them out.

And, my apologies for this one, but I slacked off this festival and didn’t take pictures or write down any setlists. Based on that, plus the surprising laziness of the whole internet world, I don’t have the official one for the show. But, if you were there and know what they played, comment it down below!

Nutshell Concert Review: Vampire Weekend – Lollapalooza 8/4/13

IMG_11891Way back in the day we did a report on a Vampire Weekend show at an outdoor music festival in Chicago. And here we are again, just over a year later, doing exactly the same thing. But there’s a reason why Vampire Weekend is our first ever repeat band in our concert reviews; it’s because they did this magical thing where they made the show different than the last. Why was it different? Well besides the 13 months of time, 20 degrees, one new album (including a smash hit song), and half of a colossal supporting tour, the atmosphere at a huge festival like Lollapalooza is much different than that of Pitchfork. What was astounding to me, however, is the group’s apparent awareness to that fact, and how well they were able to cater to it.

Among a powerful set mixing brand new tracks (a total of six coming off their most recent LP, Modern Vampires of the City) and some old classics, including “Mansard Roof” B-Side “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)”, the band hit their stride and never looked back. As usual, they held a high regard for keeping the crowd involved, including frontman Ezra Koenig and drummer Chris Tomson participating in a fire fight with the audience with ammo consisting of mainly toilet paper rolls and beach balls. It speaks volumes to a crowd when a band looks like they are truly enjoying themselves on stage, and all members took that to heart while taking time in between songs to giggle and joke, most notably when trying to remember how to play 2010’s Contra hit “Horchata”. They even seemed to have fun with poking the bear that was the uncharacteristically restless crowd by doing things like begging them to dance to “A-Punk”, and then acting casual about the craziness of the audience. Even when a fan managed to run on stage during “Giving Up the Gun” before being quickly restrained by festival security, the band kept their cool and continued to play as if there was nothing out of the ordinary going on.

Like I said before; Vampire Weekend mixed it up and was truly great enough to prove the worth in continuing to buy tickets to see bands perform over and over again. This show was fantastic on all accounts, and I’m sure the many thousands of fans that surrounded me last Sunday can vouch for that. Vampire Weekend’s Lollapalooza set was one worth seeing, and here’s to hoping that they’ll be back again soon. Until then, they’re most recent LP Modern Vampires of the City is out now.

Here’s the setlist for Vampire Weekend’s Lollapalooza show, 8/4/13:

  1. Cousins
  2. White Sky
  3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  4. Diane Young
  5. Step
  6. Holiday
  7. Unbelievers
  8. Horchata
  9. Everlasting Arms
  10. A-Punk
  11. Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
  12. Ya Hey
  13. Campus
  14. Oxford Comma
  15. Giving Up the Gun
  16. Hannah Hunt
  17. One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
  18. Walcott

Lollapalooza 2013 Recap

For those of you who missed this past weekend’s annual music festival in Grant Park, first off shame on you. But it’s fully understandable that there are many reasons to not be hitting up the notoriously crowded, hot, and usually storm-ridden Lollapalooza, and it is also understandable that if you did happen to miss it, you are curious about what you missed. Even for those that did land on the woodchip-covered park sometime this weekend, it sure is fun to reminisce. So here it is; the Nutshell Music Group Lollapalooza 3-Day Recap.

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Friday: The air was buzzing with yet another big-billed festival weekend upon us. There was a short drizzle early, and the day’s high temperature of 81 was the highest on schedule for the whole weekend. Things really were looking up with a solid set of headliners performing later in the evening, and a solid undercard to boot.

Friday’s Notable Moments:

  1. San Cisco starting off the day with a dance party except, you know, one that indie kids would go to.
  2. Father John Misty french kissing a stuffed unicorn.
  3. Bernard Sumner joining The Killers on stage to perform Joy Division’s “Shadowplay”.
  4. Thievery Corporation defining the word “groove”.

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Saturday: For many reasons, the second day of this year’s festival was very possibly the most exciting. One band was preparing for a comeback show (actually their second show back) after their bassist suffered a brain clot, and another took the stage for one of their final performances ever. On top of that, some of the biggest names in indie rock, hip-hop, and EDM all powered through electrifying sets to cap off day 2 of Lollapalooza.

Saturday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Pujol enjoying some candy thrown on stage by an audience member during their soundcheck.
  2. Matt & Kim repeatedly sampling, among many other rap classics, Ace Hood’s “Bugatti”. The band later suffered so many technical difficulties that “Daylight” had to be cut in mid-song, and they instead ended their set with “Cinders”, which they had admittedly not played in years.
  3. Ellie Goulding ending her hit “Lights” with a snippet of the Bassnectar remix.
  4. Two fans in wheel chairs crowd surfing during Kendrick Lamar’s set being helped over the front guardrail, and being allowed to watch the remainder of the show from the front of the stage.
  5. The Postal Service playing absolutely every song in their repertoire, and the crowd singing the last line of “Brand New Colony” over and over again as the band left the stage.
  6. Death Grips and Azealia Banks both separately cancelling Saturday night performances, resulting in Shaun White’s band Bad Things headlining on The Grove stage.

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Sunday: The same as always, the weekend seemed to be coming to a close much too quickly and the initial hype was slowly turning into sunburn, hangovers, and fatigue. The weather was a blessing with it actually becoming a bit cold by the end of the night, and that shot enough energy into the crowd to see some of the most successful musicians, both new and old, in their respective genres. The night ended on such a high (and tired) note that the only thing I could muster up for my personal Twitter account was “So. F*****g. Good.”

Sunday’s Notable Moments:

  1. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells taking off his pants at the tail end of the band’s set.
  2. Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club keeping it classy, performing in a suit and drinking wine.
  3. Vampire Weekend not being able to get through their set without laughing at the crowd throwing toilet paper on stage or watching as a fan ran on stage (showing his bare butt) and was quickly restrained backstage.
  4. Phoenix putting on an absolute spectacle of a performance, including Thomas Mars making two trips over the guardrail and laying down for the group’s extra-long rendition of “Love Like a Sunset”.

Keep your eyes peeled for some concert reviews of a few of the Lollapalooza sets, along with another upcoming festival review next week!

Nutshell Concert Review: Vampire Weekend – Pitchfork Music Festival 7/15/12

Photo: Tom Cruze – Chicago Sun-Times

After spending the last few weeks off, Nutshell decided to make a comeback with our first ever concert review. We chose one that would be easy to talk about, and that those of you in the Chicago area may have already heard about.

Vampire Weekend entered this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park backed up with only two performances this year (Pitchfork was the third, and is the final scheduled performance for them to date). Festival performances also seemed light years away for the quartet, with frontman Ezra Koenig saying it had been “a looooong time since [they’ve] played festivals” after they stepped onto the Green Stage on Sunday night. And how could they start the set with anything other than two-minute, fast paced Contra track “Cousins” to get the crowd amped up. The band fired through a 16-song set that was capped off with a 4-song encore. Heavily filled with songs from VW’s self-titled debut (the only track from Vampire Weekend that wasn’t featured was “Bryn”), the band looked in top shape, especially considering they’ve barely been on stage this year. The set hit all ends of Vampire Weekend’s spectrum, and it even included the heart-warming “I Think Ur a Contra” and created an amazing atmosphere to finish the show under the night sky. Koenig also promised to fans that after last night’s show, the band was on their way to finish their third studio album, with an untitled new track being played in the middle of the set. The encore was a 4-song backtrack to Vampire Weekend, with all four songs being oldies but goodies.

Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork set was a solid jumping-off point for Nutshell Concert Reviews, with a great crowd and a set that used the vast majority of the band’s repertoire. The band (keyboardist and guitarist Rostam Batmanglij in particular) got everybody in the audience involved, being sure to keep them on top of all of the “oh”s, “ah”s, and “chah”s needed to make the songs sound spot on. This concert is given an A by Nutshell Music Group. And yes, it was worth braving the sun and 90+ degree heat to see this show up close.

Here’s the setlist for Vampire Weekend’s Pitchfork show, 7/15/12:

  1. Cousins
  2. White Sky
  3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
  4. M79
  5. Run
  6. Holiday
  7. California English
  8. A-Punk
  9. Horchata
  10. I Stand Corrected
  11. I Think Ur a Contra
  12. Untitled New Song
  13. Diplomat’s Son
  14. Campus
  15. Oxford Comma
  16. Giving Up the Gun
Encore
  1. One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
  2. Mansard Roof
  3. The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance
  4. Walcott
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