In the seven years since Michael Angelakos shared the gooey valentine EP that was Chunk of Change, a lot has changed. Three albums later and the cute story backed by intriguing music has turned Passion Pit into the household name. Angelakos went from his bedroom to the frontman of a project that is filling venues around the country. His music is present everywhere. It's in commercials, at parties and on the radio as well as in the sound of many popular electronic pop artists that have formed and benefited from Passion Pit's influence. When electronic pop is mentioned, its hard not to think of Passion Pit. But despite all the fame and popularity, the genunuity found on Chunk of Change still filled the sold out Showbox at the Market on May 19th. Passion Pit has come along way, but not at the expense of their sound. So after HOLYCHILD whipped the crowd into a frenzy, Passion Pit showed us all exactly why they are still relevant. HOLYCHILD is one of those groups that has been finding success since their conception. A year after formation, they had already topped the Hype Machine chart, and had a label deal before even releasing an EP. But despite the fun, catchiness of their self described "brat pop" the duo didn't seem like a group that would translate particularly well to the live show. New pop groups tend to struggle to recreate their music without the help of studio magic, no matter how catchy and fun their pop is. But as HOLYCHILD came out to the stage as a six piece and began to blast the showbox with a full sound, it was clear that the group had it figured out. The live band consisted of two keyboardists, a drummer and vocalist Liz Nisitco backed by two backup singers/dancers. The catchy pop took on a new face, as the group erupted with energy. Percussion breakdowns, soaring harmonies and even a coordinated dance all transformed already fun songs into something even more. By the end of their set they had drawn a large crowd to the floor, and had undoubtedly proved to any critics that they were worthy of their fast success.
The release of Passion Pit's Gossamer coincided with the opening up of Michael Angelakos' battle with mental illness. The deeply personal record showed a vulnerability rarely captured in such upbeat music. As more coverage came out about the record and Angelakos' private life, it seemed more and more like he was loosing the battle with bipolar disorder. Suicide attempts and canceled tour dates showed that while he had opened up about his disorder, he hadn't conquered it. But Angelakos continued to be a face for mental illness advocacy, and with the release of Kindred and the consequential tour, things are clearly more stable. There were signs of that all over the Showbox show. The closing show of the Gossamer tour seemed like a sigh of relief that they had made it to the end of the tour in one piece. But on a Tuesday night at the Showbox, which also happened to be Michael Angelakos' birthday, the show played out in a much more triumphant manner.
The first noticeable difference from the Gossamer tour, was that Angelakos came out and performed full frontman duties instead of on a keyboard with the rest of the band. He stood in front of his band, dancing around stage and belting out his unique falsetto. There was also another band member, bringing the count to five, which allowed Passion Pit's sound to be expressed to an even fuller extent. The result was an energy that turned the audience into one of the louder Showbox crowds I've witnessed. Passion Pit peppered favorites from each of their releases throughout the Kindred songs, and the crowd responded by singing out the lyrics to just about every song. The upbeat style of Passion Pit in the face of heavy subject matter has always seemed like a celebration that there is an outlet for Angelakos. The show magnified that exponentially. It's hard to evolve as a music act, while keeping the fans happy, but Passion Pit seems to understand that the people in the crowd are important in maintaining that crucial outlet.So as the band came out for their encore, and the crowd erupted in chants of "Sleepyhead," it was no surprise that a smiling Angelakos delivered the song that had first captured the ears of so many fans, eight years prior.
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