American indie-pop band Passion Pit played Auckland’s Powerstation this week and the gig was a raging success. Frontman Michael Angelakos has recently spoken out about his battle with bipolar and how it almost meant the tour didn’t happen. But unless you listen closely to the words of each song you wouldn’t know the latest album Gossamer is a tale of testing times, because the man who appears on stage seems as happy as can be.
Passion Pit burst onto the scene in 2009 with their hit album Manners and quickly picked up a large following in New Zealand thanks to a high placement in that year’s Big Day Out lineup. Their gig at the festival, however, left me somewhat uninspired for the first 40 minutes until sound troubles were sorted out. So with only 20 minutes of Passion-flavoured-mayhem under my belt I knew I needed more and got very excited about their return to New Zealand.
I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did the crowd get to hear all the goodies from the first album, they got to hear the even better, more defined and crafted songs from Gossamer. This album isn’t all the screeching falsetto the band is well known for – that’s still there but now it slots in nicely beside some more mellow tones from Michael Angelakos. It was these songs that really came to life at the gig and I’m sure will attract a wider following.
The album’s first single Take a Walk had the crowd marching and stomping on the ground like a stationary army, while catchy tune Carried Away had everyone immersed in a singalong, turning to their friends to scream the words in their direction like they might actually stand a chance of hearing them.
Then came Constant Conversations and that’s what had me giggling excitedly like a 14-year-old girl at One Direction. The song has a bit of everything and when tied together it was musical heaven. A matured chipmunk-sounding line loops in the background while a repetitive rambling of the simple yet effective lyric ‘oh’ has the crowd singing in perfect unison and actually sounding like it’s hitting the notes. Then they throw in fantastic lyrics like “now I’m drunker than before they told me drinking doesn’t make me nice” and get every person in the crowd to carry out a perfectly timed side-to-side wave as the song builds to a stunning culmination of all factors. In my mind, it was four minutes of pure joy.
The band’s first big hit Little Secret finishes the gig with the whole puppet-audience jumping “higher, higher and higher” as instructed. Then back for a short but effective encore with number one hit from the first album, Sleepyhead. I think it’s safe to say everyone in the crowd was the opposite of sleepy after that. (Pity it was a Thursday night.)
Overall, it was a fantastic gig. A glorious combination of modern music technology pulled off seamlessly thanks to good performers and a grungy bass beat. It’s one of the best dance parties I’ve been too. I even have the sore calf muscles to prove it.