You’ve probably heard of Passion Pit. You’ve probably heard their music at some point or another. You’ve probably jammed to “Sleepyhead” in your car at a dangerously loud volume. So this review is going to be a little different than a typical “concert review,” but hey – this is Twin Cities Media, we tend to do things a little differently.
So let me preface by saying – Passion Pit is every bit amazing live as you would expect. Frontman Michael Angelakos’ insanely unique voice somehow translates so beautifully live. Passion Pit’s shiny, shimmery synth electro-pop sound takes over and you can’t not dance and move along to the pounding, booming, and at times spastic drums. The rainbow colored lights flood the stage and the room and you’re absorbed into the world of Passion Pit. It’s an experience to be well, experienced live.
But last nights’ show at First Avenue for me was a lot more than just a night of shimmery lights and getting lost in the music of Passion Pit. It was more than screaming along to Moth Wings and Take A Walk. Last night’s show was more than just another Thursday night, sipping one too many vodka sodas at my home away from home. Thursday night was a homecoming & healing of sorts.
LA duo slenderbodies opened the evening. They are a fairly new band just having released their debut EP “Fabulist Extended” last week. Max and Ben’s stage set up was simple but the energy in their set was undeniable. Keep your eyes open for this young band, you will be seeing more of them
The last time (to the best of my knowledge) that Passion Pit played the First Avenue was back in 2010 in support of their 2009 release Manners. This was one of the first times I had ever been to First Avenue, probably only enough times that I could count on one hands. I lied about liking Passion Pit to hang out with a guy I had a crush on in high school. I used a friend’s ID to get into the 18+ show because it was a week before my 18th birthday and there was no way in hell I was going to miss that show. Since that first time nearly eight years I’ve been to First Avenue more times than I can even remember. So last night I left my boyfriend at home (nope – not the same guy I had a crush on) and grabbed my *valid* ID and took myself to see Passion Pit in the same room I had seen them nearly a decade ago.
So even though I barely knew anything about Passion Pit that first time I saw them in 2010, I quickly fell in love with Passion Pit – and not just to impress some dude. I fell in love with Angelakos other-worldly voice and the catchy, fun, happy, boppy sound of Passion Pit. I first fell in love with their sound that you couldn’t help but have fun listening to. Over the years, Passion Pit become my “go-to.” They become my comfort food of music. They were a band I returned to again and again, each time falling a bit more in love. Each time, finding comfort and solace in the music. Bad day? Put on Passion Pit. Good day? Put on Passion Pit. Getting ready to go out with friends? Put on Passion Pit. Trying to cope when life just feels too heavy? Put on Passion Pit.
From that 2009-2012 window, Passion Pit was on top of the world in the a way. They were huge, they were touring, they had hit song after hit song. But around 2012 is when the narrative around Passion Pit and specifically Angelakos began to change.
Sometime ahead of the release of Passion Pit’s sophomore release Gossamer, Angelakos first began speaking pretty openly and candidly about his struggle with mental illness. Underneath this glitchy, synthy, electro, seemingly carefree fun music was a very different story. As I began reading Passion Pit lyrics and interviews from Angelakos I, like so many other, began to realize their was so much more to this band than met the eye.
During those years that Passion Pit was experiencing their ups and downs as a band, I was experiencing my own turmoil of sorts. My older brother was in the throws of his own battle with severe bipolar. That first time I saw Passion Pit I was in high school. And as high schooler, having a sibling with a severe mental illness is the last thing I wanted to deal with. High school was about assimilating to the masses (or at least it was for me). Anything that made you, or by extension your family, different was something to avoid. I didn’t know how to process my brother’s bipolar and the chaos and turmoil that caused for him and our family.
But, then in the midst of this chaos with my own family, I remember reading an article in Rolling Stone or Pitchfork about Angelakos and his battle with bipolar disorder. At that time, I had never heard someone in a position like Angelakos’ talk about mental health so candidly before. Even though it was just five/six years years ago, it was a very different climate around mental health, at least in the public arena. Musicians, celebrities, politicians and athletes didn’t speak so openly and candidly as they do now, but Angelakos’ did. And in a way he had to – with a touring schedule that was unsustainable with his mental health he was in a forced to speak about his mental health. From that first time I heard Angelakos speak about his mental illness, the music of Passion Pit took on a whole different dimension for me. It was more than just fun music to listen to in your car. It was music that gave me insight into the world of someone with bipolar. To this day, I don’t think my brother has fully owned his bipolar the way Angelakos has. It’s still hard to understand my brother and why he does some of the things he does, but through Angelakos and Passion Pit, I have come to feel like I understand my brother just a little bit better. Through Angelakos and Passion Pit, I’ve been able to cope, learn, and slowly but surely heal and be a cheerleader and advocate for not only my brother, but others with mental health issues.
At First Avenue last night – Angelakos half joked about deciding to tour again because he needed money for his mental health treatment. Again – this was a different Angelakos than many might remember from years back. He is not afraid to speak openly and give voice to something that affects the lives of so many. But at the same time, he just is Passion Pit. He makes brilliantly fun, complex and sometimes confusing music and puts on an amazing show live. Passion Pit played all of their classics as well as a handful of tracks off their newest project Tremendous Sea of Love. Sure, there were those undertones of what Angelakos and his battle with mental illness but it was also just a fun, classic, dancey Passion Pit concert.