I first saw Passion Pit while standing in the muddy festival grounds of Osheaga 2012, then at Toronto’s Kool Haus in the winter of 2013, and I recently had the absolute pleasure of seeing Michael Angelakos and his band kill it opening for Weezer at Toronto’s Downsview Park.
I was in the photo pit for the first three songs, and actually taking pictures (rather than just being in awe at my proximity to the band) was a challenge. And for anyone who ever accuses Angelakos of lip-synching, they need to be front-row for one of his shows: I’ve never seen someone open up their mouth that wide to sing out lyrics. Those jaw-stretches were a dead giveaway for the genuineness of his performance—as was his sweat-drenched button-up.
After opening with Gossamer’s “Carried Away,” Angelakos went back to 2009 and played a favourite off of Manners, “Eyes As Candles.” He said ‘thank you very much’ at the end of the song, a pattern he kept up throughout his performance.
Up next was “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy”—Gossamer’s penultimate, distress-filled track. Playing that song so early in his set created a odd contrast between the lyrical content and it being a warm, sunny, summer evening.
Then it was “Mirrored Sea,” and another ‘thank you very much’ paired with him wishing a happy birthday to Phil, a ‘guy they tour with.’ He said, ‘We love you Phil,’ had everyone scream a happy birthday. Not only was it a nice sentiment for Phil, but it also (momentarily) made Downsview feel a little smaller, a little more intimate, a little more like a… passion pit.
The ‘thanks very much’ following “Where I Come From” (a track I had yet to hear live) was softer, an apt transition into “Constant Conversations.” With lyrics like ‘drinking doesn’t make me nice’ and a slowed down beat, a certain quietness fell over the crowd.
But Angelakos was aware of that reaction, and had obviously put some thought into his set list. He said, “Toronto! Are you still with us? How you feeling? I want everybody here to put their hand in the air…all the way…just put them up… there’s no real reason not to…all of use together are going to participate…bobbing our heads…and when the beat drops its going to go real, alright?”
He was prepping us for a shot of endorphins, for “Take A Walk.”
Although I’ve heard that song so, so many times (my ringtone, on the radio, in restaurants), hearing it live, hearing my friends sing “once I was outside Penn station / selling red and white carnations,” and being in the midst of a crowd who did indeed lose their shit when the beat dropped—those things revitalize the song. It makes you forget that the song has been used in a commercial, instead reminding you that it first and foremost belongs to Michael Angelakos, to Passion Pit.
The energy never quite reached the same level after that. He played “Cry Like a Ghost,” “Little Secrets,” thanked Metz and Weezer, and closed the set with “Sleepyhead.”
It was the best part of the show; as Angelakos played that beautiful Chunk of Change, Manners track, he just beamed with smiles. He was grinning at his band members, like they were sharing some kind of inside joke. He was dancing to the edge of the stage and grinning at all of us. It was a kind of contagious happiness that spread through Downsview and had everyone going to the beat.
Click here for more photos of Passion Pit.
And click here for photos of Weezer at Downsview Park.