The tale of the inception of Passion Pit treads the infinitely fine line between heart-swellingly romantic and sickeningly schmaltzy, depending on how sweet a tooth you have. Michael Angelakos was once a one man laptop show playing a collection of songs that together comprised a belated Valentine’s Day present for his girlfriend. Three band members, seven keyboards and an E.P. and album later, Passion Pit have blossomed into an eclectic and effervescent live ensemble, inducing in the audience combined feelings of warmth and peach fuzz.
The stage strewn with Korgs, hopefully a precursor to a highly anticipated evening of evocative electronics, Dublin trio the Funeral Suits takes to the stage. The end result is thoroughly mystifying; it is a set that is sprinkled with a few thoroughly likeable indie pop songs (‘Black Lemonade’ has an unstoppably infectious bassline that could easily lend itself to a Klaxons track) but is hampered by an arsenal of tracks that, whilst certainly passable, are ultimately lacklustre and featureless, more filler than fodder, and a live performance that reads as a declaration of total indifference and lethargy and makes for a less than persuasive spectacle. Nevertheless, by the end of their set the Funeral Suits have managed to tempt a respectable crowd from the back of the sound booth to the front of the stage.
This respectable crowd has inflated inimitably, hitting maximum capacity by the time Passion Pit make their appearance. Under fuchsia lights and a glimmering disco ball, the band swiftly dispel any lingering air of apathy, delivering a performance as heartening and enthusiastic as the feverish reactions of the shrieking audience, who, throughout the duration of the performance, sing and clap along forcefully where needed, throw pashminas on stage and besiege an overwhelmingly charming Angelakos with chants of ‘get your tits out’.
Encircled by a mix of modern synthesizers and vintage keyboards, the show opens with Angelakos sitting at an old Wurlitzer electronic piano serenading the admiring crowd with a handful of more subdued songs from the debut album Manners, including the delightfully warming ‘Eyes As Candles’. Yet just as quickly as it appeared, the Wurlitzer has disappeared and been replaced with a microphone stand that is wielded like a sceptre, conducting the crowd, although they need no encouragement, to a symphony of up-tempo electronic delights. The evolution from the sparse musical arrangements of Chunk of Change to the fuller, more embellished sounds on Manners is one that translates well for Passion Pit live. From the soaring merry-go-round music of ‘Make Light’ to the fragrant jingles and handclaps of ‘Got Your Number’, every song is so richly textured and flawlessly executed that despite the fact that many of the songs sound very similar (which can arguably be attributed to Angelakos’s impressive if not limited falsetto range), there is a wealth of sonic subtleties that can be picked out, from children’s choirs to handbells, to make each song utterly enthralling.
The set further benefits from a surfeit of vigour and zeal from all the members of the band, who share an endearing onstage chemistry, exchanging smiles, exuding an unrelenting boyish enthusiasm and proving that limited stage space is in no way a justification of remaining static, as the keyboardist climbs past lights and amps to hang off the railings of the balcony, and Angelakos twists, twirls and wriggles, throwing himself onto the ground, leaping off the drum kit before eventually finding his way to the crowd. By the end of an euphoric encore, it’s harder to tell which party is fizzing sherbet-like with energy more; Passion Pit or their adoring audience.
Photos by Sean Conroy.