Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos clearly demonstrated his passion for performance Saturday night.
Passion Pit concluded its North American tour with a performance at the Belasco Theater in promotion of its latest album “Tremendous Sea of Love.” Passion Pit and the show’s opener courtship. both showcased exemplary performance chops with highly energized renditions of classics interspersed with newer material.
Kicking off the night was the LA-based electro-pop duo courtship. The group held its own with pop-rock licks supported by throbbing synths and punchy drum beats. The duo’s quirky aesthetic was evident from the moment it stepped on stage in matching orange jackets alongside a drum set decorated with a winking eye – an homage to Nirvana’s famous logo. Low synths undercut the band’s sound, reminiscent of The Killers and The Cowlicks, as it set the mood with songs like “Perfect People” along with several other off its album.
Following courtship.’s set, Passion Pit’s Angelakos traipsed onto the stage to the sound of frenzied cheers. The Massachusetts-based band opened the night with the anthemic “I’ll Be Alright.” Shrouded in darkness with white beams piercing through the veiled stage, Angelakos and the stage lights burst into colored energy with the first soaring chorus.
Dressed in a simple white dress shirt, tie and jeans, Angelakos could have passed for a concertgoer himself if not for his distinct, high-pitched voice and commanding stage presence. Throughout the night, the singer moved his arms spasmodically, leaning over and churning his arms to the beat of the music. During “Lifted Up (1985),” a song with a deceptively glittery intro that transitions into an indie-electronic headbanger, he prompted audience members to jump in the aisles and dance wildly with each beat drop.
The band moved on to perform the fan-favorite “Sleepyhead” which did the opposite of what its name might imply. While the studio version of the song sounds whiny and screechy at some points, the live version emphasized the heart-pounding drumbeat and a strengthened, more refined version of Angelakos’s distinct voice. The purple, dreamlike lighting also provided the perfect backdrop for such a whimsical song.
While the band often took advantage of pleasant, yet oddly clashing chords, it did not apply the same complexity to its lyricism. Choruses simply repeated the same line to oblivion, a benefit for audience members unfamiliar with their music. However, the lyrical simplicity seemed like a bit of a crutch for both performers, as the band kept turning the microphone to the audience to avoid singing difficult notes.
Despite the band’s lyrical shortcomings, Angelakos’ soaring vocals avoided the typical indie-electronic artist pigeonhole, where quirky pronunciation sometimes overshadows vocal range and technique. His voice surpassed any studio recording of Passion Pit, and the throaty, almost gremlin-like quality of his recorded voice showcased a pleasantly soft, yet raspy, four-octave range.
Passion Pit closed the night with two songs, one of them a rendition of their most popular hit “Take a Walk.” Angelakos slyly teased the audience before the opening chords began to play, meandering around the stage as if he had no idea what to expect. As the song began reverberating throughout the room, every person in the audience began to move. Their screams and the quickly flashing lights only added more energy to the ornate venue.
Although its North American tour is over, Passion Pit’s performance exceeded expectations, with its live musical prowess surpassing that of its studio albums.