I was very surprised to walk into Brighton Music Hall and see a harp set up in the middle of the stage. While I was listening to Active Child’s music the week leading up to his show, I was vaguely aware of the light string notes layered into the synthesizer-based instrumentals. But I was not aware that these sounds were not created by the press of a button but by the actual plucking of a harp’s strings. Pat Grossi is the one who does the plucking, but not only that, he’s also the voice behind the angelic vocals of Active Child.

Pat walks on to stage, tall and wearing a calf-length black coat. His red hair is cut close to his scalp and his features are elf-like – he looks just as mystical as his voice sounds. Pat is accompanied by a bassist, a drummer, and a keyboardist on stage, but they don’t immediately begin playing. Pat opens by quietly plucking his harp; the bass and drums follow several measures later to slowly build up the power and volume of the music. Long, sustained synth chords echo in the background of Pat’s plucking and crooning. The bass is unusually deep; it’s already deep in the recorded version but live, even more so. With all the different instruments layered on top of one another, the performance still remains highly centered around the vocals. Through all the sounds of the harp plucking, bass booming, and synth echoing, Pat’s voice still rings loud and clear above all.

The crowd that night was larger and louder than expected, and even Pat seemed surprised. Brighton Music Hall was filled front to back. Even during Active Child’s slow, chill songs, the audience was overly excited, howling at random intervals. Pat noted that the audience passed up a Friday night at bars or clubs and expressed his appreciation for the audience; “instead, you’re here vibing and getting mystical with us.”

Pat finishes the last couple songs on the keyboard, playing a few simple sustained chords to let his voice be the dominant presence. He invites the audience to join in during “Playing House,” shouting out, “sing it with me!” Surprisingly, a large chorus of people do timidly chime in during the chorus. His short 50 minute set ends with his most popular song off the Rapor EP, “Silhouette,” minus Ellie Goulding however, and the band promptly exits the stage.

After a lot of noise for an encore, Pat finally walks back on to the stage, sans cloak and band members. “I was not expecting that,” he confesses. Of course, what crowd doesn’t want an encore? We were definitely in for a treat, Pat decides to play an unconventional encore which he introduces as an old gospel song. He plays this one on keyboard with echoey crescendos and decrescendos to accompany his strong falsetto voice. It’s a tear-jerking performance as he sings the haunting lyrics “I know he watches me” in the highest notes he’s sung all night.

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