The full-on sonic sugar-rush that was this year’s Kindred came as a bit of a surprise to most Passion Pit devotees – after all, the euphoric highs of the band’s last two albums were laced with undercurrents of unsettling darkness, from lost-soul lament “The Reeling” to boozy confessional “Cry Like a Ghost.”
While Passion Pit’s hyper-energetic vigor has always been one of the group’s selling points, listeners have also learned to appreciate frontman Michael Angelakos’ working through his demons in song as an important part of the band. And so to listen to him on Kindred, gleefully bouncing through pep-rally pump-up jams, seemingly imbued with a new lightness of being, was to be both caught off-guard and more than a little relieved.
It would be a mistake to conflate this fizzier, sweeter sound with an end to the days of the singer’s melancholy musings. With the release of Kindred, though, for the first time in Passion Pit’s history, the band had put out a positive album – a sanguine, spirited celebration of love, faith and stability. It was as if, in the midst of watching a sunset and dreading nightfall, they had finally managed to focus their attentions on sound-tracking every last sliver of brilliant light.
And taking the stage at Boston’s Lawn on D for a sold-out show Wednesday night, Passion Pit delivered a set dynamic enough to match Kindred’s most kinetic heights, yet diverse enough to place the band’s new, more ebullient material in context.
Opening with fan-favorite “Little Secrets” then launching headlong into “Lifted Up (1985),” Angelakos seamlessly connected his past and present highs, comparing an earliest song about the barbed ecstasy of heroin addiction to a bubbly, recent track recounting the transcendent power of his then-wife’s love and support.
It was the first of multiple instances in which the frontman, flitting between songs off Manners, Gossamer and Kindred, seemed to pay his respects to songs from tougher times while embracing the infectious optimism of his more recent material.
For every exuberant rendition of faster-tempo tracks like “All I Want” and “I’ll Be Alright” came an equal share of stripped-down, intimate performances, like “Constant Conversations” and “The Reeling.” The crowd, hands raised and eyes wide, greeted every successive track with fresh screams of approval (and, better yet, lyrical accompaniment).
But whether on airy fantasia “Where the Sky Hangs” or foot-stomping stadium anthem “Carried Away,” Angelakos’ presence, and unabashed passion for the gathered fans, was the glue holding the concert together. Dancing around the stage, thrusting the mic out into the crowd and belting out some of his most candy-colored lyrics with an ardor too palpable to have been feigned, the frontman was on fire.
Though Passion Pit blew through over a dozen songs, many without so much as a minute-long lull, it was also not uncommon for Angelakos to look out over the crowd and shout some encouragements of his own.
“Boston, you are the best,” he cried out at one point late in the night, visibly choked up but smiling wide, before launching into the night’s last scheduled song, electrifying breakthrough hit “Take A Walk.”
Attendees lapped up the praise, and as that song’s final strains died out, Angelakos raised his hands and saluted the crowd before leading the band off-stage. But as the lights dimmed, the applause continued to rise, to an almost deafening crescendo, accompanied by chants of “Sleepyhead, sleepyhead!”
And Passion Pit, consummate crowdpleasers that they are, were happy to oblige, coming back out to end the night on a high note by transforming the song that put them on the map into an exhilarating, orgasmic finale.
Playing in support, Los Angeles-based electronic musician Robert DeLong (replacing Broods, who were forced to drop out after Passion Pit delayed the concert from July until September) delivered the night’s most unexpectedly riotous moments.
After introducing himself with an off-the-wall clip encompassing Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” music video and internet-meme cats, DeLong quickly showed the crowd why he’s considered to be one of the most creative electronic acts in town. Moving frantically around a control panel of MIDI devices while rocking out on drums and repurposing a Wii remote to control vocal delay glitching (among other on-stage gadgets), he set himself apart from any other live fringe-EDM performer this writer has come across.
The artist’s new album, In the Cards, drops later this week, and DeLong opened his set with the title track, before blasting into earworms “Religious Views” and “Jealousy.” Other highlights included a high-octane drum solo and DeLong’s one-two punch finale, as the artist followed up headbanger “Long Way Down” with his biggest hit to date, dancefloor anthem “Global Concepts.” To quote the man himself, he made us f-cking dance.
DeLong’s biggest influence over the event lasted past his set, though – his trademark face-painters made the rounds early on, adorning concertgoers with glowing designs that only grew more vivid as the sun set (a stunning sight at the Lawn on D, by the way) and attendees drew closer for the main act.