WFNX, the taste-making alternative rock station, is being sold to Clear Channel, but Friday night at the Bank of America Pavilion offered one good example of how its legacy will live on. Boston’s Passion Pit, one of the many bands the station launched onto the national scene over the years, acknowledged the debt, with frontman Michael Angelakos saying, “We don't know if we’d be on this stage if it weren’t for them.” It was a feel-good moment for the local rock scene, and a mostly feel-good set from the homecoming heroes.
But maybe they shouldn't be on this stage? One can be proud of, and happy for, a hometown band without appreciating all the trappings of their success. Perhaps it was a lengthy thunderstorm power outage that delayed the set and spoiled some moods, or perhaps it was simply a case of the wrong venue for the electro-bubble-pop six-piece’s music. Songs that are capable of transporting the listener to a state of dancing euphoria in a smaller club, like the surging synth joy of “Little Secrets,” don’t always translate to a seated venue with school-marm staffers monitoring every aisle. Angelakos, dancing aggressively onstage in his adjunct-professor-chic garb, acknowledged as much before launching into the band’s most club-centric track, “The Reeling.” “I don’t like the seats,” he said. “It doesn't bode well.”
That track was evidence of Passion Pit at its best, with multi-layered synths (four or five onstage at once effecting a kaleidoscope of effervescent counter-melody), the occasional bass guitar, and pounding live drums. “Take a Walk,” the first single from the forthcoming “Gossamer,” was well-received as well; likewise the new “I’ll Be Alright,” with its claustrophobic whirl of chopped-up hip-hop samples giving way to the wide open space of the chorus. Another new song, “Constant Conversations,” an R&B romance with cooing backup vocals and a slowed-down handclap beat, and the melancholic “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” were welcome respite from the band’s relentlessly cheery form. For all the magic of Angelakos’s high-pitched vocals in short bursts, after an hour-plus a variation in tone was welcome. Here’s hoping these songs help find the band an even broader audience, but forgive us if we're not there to find out next time.