If you arrived at the Fillmore in beautiful downtown Silver Spring last Saturday expecting to hear an arty shoegaze band play haunting, lilting melodies similar to that one huge song you know, you’d have been surprised to be greeted instead with a high-energy poppy dance outfit playing 80’s throwback numbers. The Temper Trap, of late from London but originally hailing from Melbourne, Australia, came to the attention of most Americans via 2009’s mega-single “Sweet Disposition” -- that song seeps into your head with soaring falsetto vocals and a slowly building, dreamy melody, closing with an anthemic boom -- and it’s completely different from 90 percent of the rest of the band’s material. If you were that surprised guy, however, you were in the minority because Saturday’s show was a festival of superfans who recognized every song on the set list from the first note, shouting out lyrics for every song.
The band came on stage to blinding red strobe lights and the driving guitar riffs of “Repeater,” and when lead singer Dougy Mandagi sashayed on a minute or two later to take the microphone, the Fillmore went berserk. By the time the band started in on “Rabbit Hole,” one of the singles from their new eponymous album, most of the girls in the audience were screaming in a higher falsetto than Mandagi. “Rabbit Hole” began with that trademark falsetto, then built into a strobe-y wall of noise, with Mandagi shouting over it all - he doesn’t use the falsetto in every song, and when he’s singing in his regular voice he sounds a lot like Dennis DeYoung of Styx. Given the 80’s bent of TT’s music, it’s an appropriate fit.