I was a little bummed on Friday when I got the e-mail saying I would be covering last night’s show. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to a show or anything because, let’s be honest, show are my life. It was more the fact that I have to get caught up on work and cleaning at my apartment so the idea of a completely free day sounded really good. Also, let’s be honest, the only thing I knew about Passenger (the headlining act) was his hit song “Let Her Go” and let’s just say that it wasn’t my favorite song to listen to.
The show started out with Australian indie-rockers The Paper Kites. With only a half hour long set, it was hard for me to completely fall head over heels for these guys but, what I did hear had me a bit intrigued. They indie rock had a sense of folk music that was subtle but still noticeable. I don’t quite know how to explain but I can say that it made these guys feel unique in a scene that is so over saturated with generic sounds. Throughout the set, band members were swapping instruments with each other which just showed off the true talent in this give piece band. The voices of Sam Bentley and Christian Lacy blended perfectly into an almost hauntingly beautiful sound.
Even though I found myself a bit intrigued by The Paper Kites’ music, I couldn’t help but notice that they were being ignored by majority of the crowd. It was clear to me that this was going to be one of those shows where everyone is just there for that one song by that one guy and would treat the rest of the night as a social hour. Part of me felt terrible for The Paper Kites but another part of me figured that these guys new what they were getting into when signing up for a tour like this.
After The Paper Kites’ quick set, one puke clean up and one passed out chick in the front row for no apparent reason, the stage was set for Passenger. I braced myself for what was to come. I may or may not have been planning my escape route so I could bounce after just a couple of songs in order to catch another show going on that I wanted to see. I was joking with the photographer who was assigned to the show with me. We were talking about how the title of our post should be “So Two Single People Go To A Passenger Show…” I mean, it was true, we were in a sea of couples and, I can’t speak for him but, I know I was feeling the loneliness a bit more than usual. As he walked towards the photo pit in front of the stage, I was left alone at my spot under the stairs. The band started to walk out on stage, I took a deep breath, and prepared for the impact of seeing a one hit wonder on stage and being a bit more than underwhelmed.
Mike Rosenberg, AKA Passenger, came out on stage with his guitar in hand. The members of his backing band took their spots behind their instruments and the set began. After just one song, Mike addressed the crowd with a brand of humor and a personality that ended up becoming a huge selling point for me as the night went on (more on that later). “I only have one really famous song… It’s not to be confused with Disney’s song “Let It Go”— That movie ruined my fucking life.” I couldn’t help but literally laugh out loud at this and, although I don’t quite understand how someone could get his song “Let Her Go” confused with the famed song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen, I more than appreciated the fact that Mike was able to make it into a bit of a joke.
Passenger forged ahead with their set and I found myself loving the show more than I ever thought I would. To say that Mike has a unique voice would be an understatement. It’s one of those voices where, as soon as you hear it, you know damn well who it belongs to. The band behind him just enhances his voice and seems to respectfully take a back seat to the iconic voice. That’s not to say they go without mention as towards the end of the set, Mike introduced each member to the crowd which truly showed the integrity of this guy. I mean, he didn’t have to do that and, honestly, I don’t think the crowd really cared since they were mostly just there for him but it was a nice gesture.
I wouldn’t consider Passenger’s songs to be full of energy on recordings. Honestly, now that I listen to some of the recordings this morning, I find them to be quite boring but something was different when seeing it live. Mike and the band had a sense of energy that I wasn’t quite expecting. I found myself falling love a bit more with every single song they played and, although I probably won’t become an avid listener of Passenger, as soon as they announce another Minneapolis show, I will be buying a ticket and going.
In-between songs, Mike had a way of infusing humor and a humble attitude into his set. After the first line of his cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”, Mike addressed the crowd and told them that this was his new song. I’m sure this joke was a bit lost on the extremely young members of the crowd but it wasn’t lost on the older portion and those who caught the joke erupted into laughter. He introduced one song as “a silently cry in the dark” kind of song which, is actually too true to even laugh at. He was able to poke a little bit of fun at himself when it came to his hit song “Let Her Go” without coming off as unprofessional. The best part about Mike’s banter is that it didn’t feel scripted at all. His personality shined and, within just a couple of songs, he felt like a guy who got lucky with one hit song and he knew it. You could feel the appreciation radiate off the stage as he thanked the sold out crowd for paying the somewhat expensive ticket prices (his words, not mine) to come out and see him.
With the mix of humor, tasteful music, and true talent, Passenger had me sold. My plan to leave a little early to catch another show was quickly foiled and I found myself staying until the bitter end of the early show. Sure, I could have still made my way to the other side of town to catch the second half of the show I wanted to but, honestly, I was emotionally exhausted after experiencing Passenger.
I wasn’t expecting much from the show last night.
Passenger is definitely in my top 20 live bands of all time and, when you go see a show damn near every night, that’s truly saying something.
Venue: First Avenue
Sausage Fest Meter- 2 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 50– I mean, there was such a variety. Kind of cool to see!
Crowd Surfers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Passed Out People – 1
Celebrity Sightings- None
Overall Score-9.8 out of 10
Show on Deck- Lydia Can’t Breathe/ Psychostick + more