Opening for Passion Pit was the Los Angeles outfit Courtship, a duo of newcomers who began in 2016. According to the groups bandcamp page, they’re, “just two dudes writing songs about sneaking out and jumping fences”.
Composed of Eli, (lead guitar, vocals) and Micah (synthesizer, vocals) the group made light work of their short 30-minute set. Eli has a passionate singing voice that floats in the upper register similar to that of Passion Pit and Vampire Weekend. He also had an uplifting stage presence, jumping around the stage with a cheesy smile from ear to ear. Micah, meanwhile, was understated, subtle and smooth, leading most of the songs and providing a solid vocal foundation for Eli’s voice.
Micah took the lead for a cover of Outkast’s ‘Hey Yah’, which, obviously got the people going. But vocally it was a little uninspired, I mean he’s no [Sleepy Brown]. For me, personally, the highlight of Courtship’s set was their closing number ‘Tell me Tell me’ which is a mix of beach-pop guitar riffs, a funk-driven bass line, and happy-go-lucky minimalist lyrics.
Touring once again off the strength of his recently-released, much-awaited new album, Tremendous Sea of Love, and celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his debut EP, Chunk of Change, Michael Agelakos from Cambridge, Massachusetts (i.e. the sole member of Passion Pit) brought his playful yet soaring voice to The Commodore last night.
Passion Pit opened the set with ‘I’ll Be Alright’ and followed with ‘Sleepyhead’ to keep the old hits rolling. The show began with two big crowd-pleasers, but it took Michael a few songs to truly get his vocal chops warmed up to his own satisfaction. He spent parts of the first several songs altering the distance of his microphone, seemingly unsatisfied with either the mix, his vocal performance thus far, or both. Luckily for us, it didn’t seem to affect his enthusiasm, as Angelakos spent much of the night dancing eccentrically and swinging the microphone above his head like a cowboy. Michael revealed later that he was still recovering from a cold but that the crowd’s energy was giving him some life back.
Angelakos’ sound did improve considerably over the evening, and as he performed hit after hit his performance got better and better. Highlights included ‘Eyes as Candles’ which featured Angelakos on keys, ‘Sylvia’ with its funky synth motive, and ‘Lifted up 1985’. Closing the set with ‘Carried Away’ allowed Michael Angelakos to put his vocal prowess on display, leaning back and belting his well-renowned falsetto like a classically-trained opera singer. Passion Pit’s encore began with a heartfelt performance of his ballad ‘Constant Conversations’, and ended with another one of his most notable hits, ‘Take a Walk’.
Angelakos, a vocal mental health activist, has been very open in interviews when speaking about his own mental health. Passion Pit released Tremendous Sea of Love for free on twitter to those who retweeted the #weneedscience campaign, and will be donating all proceeds to psychiatric research at the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Set List (incomplete)
I’ll Be Alright
Eyes as Candles
Where the Sky Hangs
Lifted Up 1985
Take a Walk
Photos © Jamie Taylor // Cryptic Photography