9/16/15 – The Lawn On D

Recipe for the ultimate concert experience: mix together one local band, a sprinkling of neon body paint, and a truly unique green space. Bake at 70° for three hours. On September 16th Passion Pit seized the opportunity to redeem themselves after their July show at the Lawn on D was cancelled due to frontman Michael Angelakos falling ill, and the results were bittersweet.

The sun peeked through the high rises surrounding the rectangular park on D Street, blocked off by food trucks, fences, and those neat light-up swings. But a certain chill hung over the at first sparse crowd. The show was sold out, but it didn’t feel like it. The Lawn didn’t fill until after Passion Pit had begun playing, which proved frustrating for opener Robert Delong, who powered through a rather anti-climactic set. Though his music was upbeat and electric both in sound and nature, the crowd was more interested in browsing their phones than listening or dancing, as Delong prompted them to do quite literally in the lyrics of his songs.

The technicolor stage lights swirling around yet never directly on Delong left him in the dark, further separating his connection to the crowd. The set was underwhelming, but it wasn’t the music that was necessarily disappointing. Rather, it was the lack of attention from the crowd that drained the energy from the set. As Delong realized no one was listening, his enthusiasm wavered. “Did I make money, was I proud?/Did I play my songs too loud?” Delong asked in his second-to last song, “Global Concepts.” “Did I leave my life to chance?/Or did I make you fucking dance?” Unfortunately, no.

But then the sun began to set, and the lawn began to fill. New Zealand-based Broods were unable to make an appearance as a second opener as they were slated to in July, so the stage changed over, and Passion Pit emerged rather unceremoniously. Sans fanfare, Angelakos began singing “Little Secrets,” almost whispering as if he was unsure whether he wanted the audience to hear. But they caught on, and he was joined by a chorus of fans shouting “Higher and higher” in unison.

Passion Pit’s performance seemed filled with a sense of urgency, an overwhelming need to perform. Though a majority of the setlist was made up of lesser-known tracks, that didn’t stop the audience from dancing as the visibly shaken Angelakos sang his heart out. Perhaps he wasn’t certain whether the turnout would be decent or if anyone had even remembered he had broken a promise by canceling the show in July. But if there’s one thing Passion Pit excels at in the world of music, it’s funneling raw emotion into their songs. A man with a past, Angelakos isn’t afraid of projecting his wide range of feeling into his songs.

The show reached a lull towards the middle of the set, leveling out with a slew of mellow tunes in danger of becoming background music. Though emotion runs high in Passion Pit’s songs, it didn’t always translate in their performance. At times, Angelakos seemed to run out of steam on stage.

Then Angelakos broke into a conversation with the audience, apologizing for canceling the promised summer show. Residents of the apartments lining the adjacent D Street peered down from their balconies; airplanes and a drone lit up the sky overhead; a crescent moon tipped closer to listen: “I get carried away.” The crowd brightened with recognition, moved to dance once again. There’s something unifying about singing through your pain, and that gets amplified when a hundred odd strangers identify with it and dance along. Angelakos was bursting with enthusiasm, seemingly thankful that he’d reached these people.

The set came to a close, but the crowd remained – they hadn’t heard what they’d came for. As goes the typical encore, an ample amount of minutes passed before the acclaimed “indietronica” band reclaimed the stage. Under a flurry of lights and synthesized sounds, they burst into an explosive rendition of their most popular song, “Sleepyhead.” And the crowd sang every word.

 

Bittersweet Redemption: Passion Pit
Pros
  • Packed full of emotion, apparent in performance
  • Kept audience engaged by engaging with them
  • Clear desire to perform
Cons
  • Energy faltered on stage at times
  • Audience unfamiliar with setlist
8Bittersweet

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