Bear Hands, Hockey, Passion Pit - London Cargo

Two outta three ain't bad...
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If you dropped a bomb on Cargo tonight, a great number of the music industry’s most significant movers and shakers would bite the dust – this is a buzz show for sure, in-attendance suits intent on seeing what’s got new bands editors’ tongues wagging.

First up to an already bustling live room are Brooklyn’s Bear Hands. Sadly, train delays mean that this writer catches only the four-piece’s final two songs (and a botched attempt at on-stage lip-locking), but having seen them a few days earlier in Paris I’m confident when I say that they’re most certainly a ones-to-watch act genuinely worth watching. Their spiky, percussively stimulating indie-rock’s a formula heard numerous times before, but it’s executed with a spirit uncommon in ‘breaking’ bands. The Strokes possessed by the creativity of Animal Collective, maybe? Yeah, that’ll sell ‘em. Check out their new single ‘What A Drag’ for a taste of their colourful concoctions.

Hockey, another foursome who hail from Oregon, are somewhat less impressive, though. Coming on like a barroom band take on an LCD/Rapture funk-punk mash-up, they exude a confidence that borders on braggadocio, but fail to truly connect their simple songs to a crowd that, in certain sections at least, has come tonight demanding more than pedestrian fare. They’re not terrible, do not misread this criticism; but with present company considered they stick out like a proverbial sore thumb, a Kasabian playing on a bill bookended by acts of greater inspiration and ambition. Don’t believe the hype just yet.

But the mood that manifested itself during Bear Hands’ set – one where tastes were tickled by musicians daring to step out of commercially viable comfort zones – returns when Massachusetts outfit Passion Pit (pictured) take the stage to woo the assembled with cuts from their ‘Chunk Of Change’ EP (reviewed HERE). The EP’s lo-fi aesthetic is given a striking make-over, the songs of project lynchpin Michael Angelakos allowed to grow into shapes far beyond the scope of their original design.

Angelakos is a mesmerizing frontman, regularly standing atop his bench – he sits to play keys – to scour the crowd to gauge the (almost universally) positive reaction. His shrieks are perhaps a little too harsh on the ears for some tastes, but there’s no doubt that when he and the four around him hit their stride in perfect harmony, the sound that fills Cargo is one that ripples to the tune of pure joy, exuberance set in solid sonic stone that could last the turning of ages. Well, trends at any rate – once this season of seeing the much-tipped has died down (give it a few more weeks), Passion Pit are sure to emerge as an act worthy of their early plaudits.

Quite brilliantly, Angelakos and company know it’s best to leave their audience wanting more, so depart the stage after what seems like no time at all to the kind of rapturous applause usually reserved for bands with at least one album to their name. Well, said record’s not so far off – expect it to be a sensational release based on tonight’s performance.

So, as the Meat Loaf anthem goes: two outta three ain’t bad.

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