Give one listen to Cambridge-based electro-pop quintet Passion Pit and you’ll wonder if they can pull it off live. The possibility that they may not be able to replicate the high-pitched, synth-filtered vocals that give their records Gossamer and Manners an air of postmodern bubble-gum pop/soul fusion arose within seconds of the set’s first song.
The band’s apparently lackluster attitude about the performance transmitted to the crowd, unified in their urge to imitate the dance party Passion Pit’s records can spawn in their living rooms.
When it appeared that the set was doomed to be nothing more than reserved head bopping – a far cry from the energy portrayed on their studio albums – something magical happened. Much like an expert will take over a task for a struggling novice, the audience started singing front man Michael Angelakos’ words more powerfully and closer to key than he was. The singer’s expression went from disinterested to frightened. Closely watching him, one might have caught the knowing grin across his face for the brief second before he decided that it was time to get the show in full swing. Simply being there, one may have enjoyed one of – if not the – best performances of the day!
Angelakos is a small man whose erratic movements fluctuate between complete control and a lack thereof. His close-set eyes give off the impression of distance or pensiveness much like those of Thom Yorke. With the exception of the music-babe next door accompanying the group live with synths, Passion Pit’s members do not appear as masterminds behind infectious, sexy hits like “Sleepyhead”.
Instead, their collective demeanor is that of the Berklee College geniuses they truly are, responsible for bringing Angelakos melodic, bizarre, and often moving musical creations to life. This alone would have made the front man stand out in the throes of the first two songs the band performed, but not in the glamorous Bowie or too-cool Kanye way.
Instead, Angelakos awkwardly paced the front of the stage like a madman in deep contemplation. From a glance, this image reflected the news of his bouts with mental illness, a struggle that has led the band to cancel some of their more recent shows. However, this seeming detriment to the band’s success also happened to make the set’s transition from boring to exciting that much more heartfelt. Watching Angelakos’ attitude change from removed to ecstatic was like watching someone you care for find happiness, inspiring the band and the crowd alike to carry on a set where the movement was the collective work of everyone in attendance. It is because of this that one understands all the hype.
From the third song on, every note sounded better than on their two most recent and very polished studio efforts. Unlike most live sets – where the high note occurs during the first song and, from there, everything is progressively more tiring – Passion Pit’s performance gripped listeners like a fast-paced novel does readers, feeling more eventful every second.
Like great stories, the end left listeners wanting more.
To learn more, visit Passion Pit