Passion Pit | 12.10.09 | S.F.

Words by: Lindsay Colip | Images by: Steven Walter

Passion Pit :: 12.10.09 :: Mezzanine :: San Francisco, CA

Passion Pit :: 12.10 :: San Francisco
What a difference a year makes. Once Passion Pit took the stage at Mezzanine, it was obvious that the last year of touring and music making had paid off. Michael Angelakos (lead vocals, keys), Ian Hultquist (guitar, keys), Ayad Al Adhamy (samples, synth), Jeff Apruzzese (bass, synth bass) and Nate Donmoyer (drums) make up the energetic, enterprising electronic collective from Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, it wasn’t always a five-piece ensemble. Passion Pit started out with Angelakos making his sweetheart a Valentine’s Day CD (Chunk of Change EP) back in 2007. From there he decided to disperse the EP amongst students and friends at Emerson College. It didn’t take very long for people to catch onto his infectious sound, energetic voice, and memorable lyrics. Angelakos then teamed up with some fellow musicians and started touring and amassing a huge following. In early 2009, they put out their first full album, Manners, as a follow up to Angelakos’ 2008 EP.

When I first heard the EP, I was hooked. Every single song is upbeat, fun, danceable, and approachable – perfect for a pre-party or a late night dance session and always a guaranteed good time. When I found out the guys were playing at Sasquatch! (JamBase review) last spring I was beyond excited and ready to get loose. Unfortunately, they ended up playing in the middle of a sweltering hot day on a huge outdoor stage. Needless to say, a LOT was lost from this performance. Angelakos’ voice was completely strained (almost gone actually), and because I consider his high pitched, spirited voice the most important instrument of all, the songs suffered.

This summer I was able to catch them again at Melt! Festival in Germany (JamBase review) and thankfully, they had been slated at the perfect time slot and stage. They were the last performance on the last night in a dance tent. This was a great performance but it was clear they were still learning how to be a unit, how to be seamless onstage.

Passion Pit :: 12.10 :: San Francisco
Finally, at Mezzanine, a whole new band emerged. They looked completely put together, cohesive, fashion forward even. The earlier performances seemed like a group of highly talented technology/music geeks thrown together in a bit of a disheveled mess. Now, they are 100-percent Passion Pit. Angelakos sounded fantastic. His voice was pitch perfect – not strained, never wavering, very solid. Each of the gajillion instruments was on point, as well – shakers, bells, various percussion toys, clap tracks and more. Speaking of their clap track, it honestly has to be one of the best in the business. They have that DIALED IN. They looked like they were having a riot up there, too. Dancing around to their own songs, silently miming the words while Angelakos belted them out. Really fantastic.

The venue was stunning for these guys as well – intimate, danceable, dark. They opened up with “Make Like” and immediately hooked the crowd. They continued on with “Little Secrets,” “Moth’s Wings,” “The Reeling,” “Let Your Love Grow Strong,” “To Kingdom Come,” and mega-hit “Sleepyhead.” “Smile Upon Me” was a huge treat. They’ve made the live version so much better than the original. Each time I’ve heard it they’ve added more complexity to it and at Mezzanine they absolutely blew it out of the water. I’d go see them every time they come to town JUST to hear the live version of “Smile Upon Me.” They closed with “Better Things” to a seriously amped-up crew of ultra-trendy 20-something San Franciscans.

Overall, this was one fun dance party. They truly looked confident and happy onstage. Manners is a good glimpse of where they’re headed as a band, and I hope they continue to produce fun, smile provoking, foot tapping music. In a time where things are a little uncertain and tough, Passion Pit gives us a much-needed release. More music, please!

Passion Pit tour dates available here.

Continue reading for more pics of Passion Pit in San Francisco…

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