Ever since Imogen Heap’s jaw-dropppingly beautiful set there in June, I’ve been silently pleading for another rockin’ night at the Granada, and Wednesday night I got my wish (times four). In addition to an arguably decent — and unarguably well-received — headlining set from Passion Pit, fans were treated to a triad of opening acts, spanning from the very good to the ever-rare indie-rock spectacle.
Early on in the night, we got a solid and hard hitting set from L.A. three-piece We Barbarians, who delivered a stylistic mix of building drums and garagey guitar tones. (Think Local Natives meets Cold War Kids.) Most impressively, the trio managed a killer cover of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s “Strange Overtones” — and somehow filled an enormous and semi-empty room with just two guitars and a kit.
Not long after, early birds got a sweet little opening set from newly formed supergroup Mister Heavenly. The foursome (made up of Man Man frontman Honus Honus, Islands’ Nick Thornburn, Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer, and Superbad star Michael Cera) were only eight dates into their first-ever tour on Wednesday but still accomplished what they promised: a doo-wop–infused mix of doomed love ballads. Most got the straightforward ‘50s diner treatment, but the highlights drew ever so slightly from the Balkan circus-waltzes Man Man have become known for and succeeded in turning a star-studded little novelty act into some seriously quirky aural goodness.
Come headliner time, the crowd was literally humming with anticipation, and when the lights went down, the place nearly exploded from the strain of it all. Backed by a truckload of strobes, the Passion Pit quintet quickly fell into place and hit the familiar opening synth lines of “Make Light.” Fans rushed the stage, aisle-spanning dance parties ensued, and the diehards made sure to match frontman Michael Angelakos, note for high-pitched note. Still, it wasn’t long before some realized that Passion Pit live just didn’t pack the same floor-shaking sonic punch we’d come to expect from our (well-worn) copies of Manners. Chalk it up to a less-than-stellar job at the mixing board, or a band just too road-weary after touring for 19 straight months, but something felt off.
That said, oldies like “Live to Tell the Tale” and groovy ballads like “Let Your Love Grow Tall” left their mark. And the crowd reaction to singles “The Reeling” and the show-closing “Sleepyhead” nearly shook the Granada off its foundation. It went to show that sometimes you just can’t stop a good dance party. I guess I’m not the only one pleading for more big-scale, light-show–enhanced rock shows after all.