Passion Pit delight at the Paradise

A review of Passion Pit at the Paradise Rock Club on June 18, 2009

, Staff Writer

There was lots of dancing at the Paradise Rock Club last week. First, Phoenix put on a blistering set to an amped-up, sold out crowd, then local darlings Passion Pit come in for their first appearance at the legendary club to a packed house full of friends and fans. It can’t get much better that that.

Thursday’s performance was a great time, punctuated by singing synthesizers, dance-itty pop jams, and a damn good falsetto. Opening with “Better Things” Passion Pit performed a 45-minute set featuring the better selections from Chunk of Change and their brand new album, Manners. Vocalist/keyboardist Michael Angelakos seemed happy to be home as he bopped around behind the keys, his frumpy mop of brown hair bouncing uncontrollably with the music. How he manages to sing so consistently in such high voice is beyond me.

Passion Pit, which started out as Angelakos’ solo project, formed at Emerson College only two years ago. After only a handful of shows and the release of their debut EP Chunk of Change in 2008, the band have gone from local favorites to rising stars on the national scene. With the release of their first full-length, Manners, in May, the band is being hailed as one of this year’s best new acts and were favorites at the recent Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennesse. Such a blast of attention might inflate the egos of some, but Passion Pit were remarkably humble onstage, visibly awed to be performing on the famed Paradise stage.

“We’ve always wanted to play at the Paradise,” Angelakos said before launching into “The Reeling,” which featured some totally solid synchronized synthesizer head bouncing. It’s easy for electronic, synth-laden music to feel redundant after awhile, and while the band definitely sounded better when there were guitars being played, the quality of songwriting and energy of the music made this show really enjoyable. “Smile Upon Me” was a trancy, light love song with ambient waves and doe-eyed lyrics. Passion Pit really is music for lovers. Makes sense, considering Chunk of Change began as a musical love note to Angelakos’ girlfriend. Cute.

The highlight of the night was inevitably “Sleepyhead,” the ultra-catchy jam that earned Passion Pit comparisons to MGMT and thus opened the floodgates of what we in the industry call “buzz”. The calmer “I’ve Got Your Number” calmed things down a bit, and “Cuddle Fuddle” was a funky lil’ number that’s really fun to say.

It’s always good to see a local band gaining some notoriety. It’s even better to see them come to back to their hometown and still act like the same group of guys that were playing at Great Scott and T.T. the Bear’s Place only a few months ago. This time around, Passion Pit put on a short but sweet concert that showed they’re still hungry and feel they have something to prove.

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