Still looking for a Valentine’s Day present for that special someone? Forget flowers—how about a perfectly crafted pop record? Michael Angelakos, the singer and creative force behind Passion Pit, wrote and recorded the band’s Chunk of Change EP as a belated Valentine’s present for his girlfriend in 2007. Since then, the 21-year-old’s songs have become a sensation on the blogosphere and landed Passion Pit deals with French Kiss Records and Columbia Records UK.
Passion Pit is a hot commodity, and last night at the Black Cat was no different. The band was originally slated to perform at the Cat’s 200-person-capacity backstage, but the show’s high demand warranted a last-minute switch to the larger mainstage, where fans packed into every one of its 800 spots. Unfortunately, the live product wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.After opening sets by fellow electronically centered performers Cale Parks and Paper Route, Angelakos and the rest of his crew of twentysomethings took the stage. Passion Pit—named after the necking scene at drive-in movie theatres—consists of a drummer, bassist, and three musicians on synthesizers, including Angelakos. The Cat’s speakers couldn’t handle the triple-thronged synthesizer attack. The wave after wave of effects-laden keyboards and loops produced a muddy and occasionally piercing sound. The youthful exuberance displayed on record in songs such as “I’ve Got Your Number,” “Smile Upon Me,” and “Better Things” was restrained live, and many of Angelakos’s best hooks were lost in the sonic mud.
However, the band’s intentions were never in question. Angelakos performed passionately on each song, especially the thumping “Sleepyhead,” which produced plenty of booty-shaking in the crowd. The singer also displayed major musical chops with his seemingly unnatural falsetto, which may have even more range than Justin Vernon’s of Bon Iver.
Passion Pit’s set was a brief 45 minutes, but that was expected—the group hasn’t even released a full-length album yet. The first studio release is due in May, and the band tried out a few new songs last night. Despite a pounding set of eardrums, I’m looking forward to it.