Opening for the sold out Passion Pit concert in Toronto was Ontario’s own The Elwins. “Somewhat north of Toronto” as they introduced themselves as. They arrived on stage with five members consisting of two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. Their sound was a strong indie rock vibe with a slight edgier tone, mostly displayed by their guitar solo moments. It was kind of surprising that a band that “rock-ish” was supporting an electronic dominant artist, but it still worked well as Passion Pit, especially his earlier work, had drums composed like rock tracks. Since there didn’t seem to be many outright Elwins fans, they did their effort to loosen the crowd by engaging with them. Singer and guitarist Matthew Sweeney hopped onto the barriers and raised his mic to the audience. Each member also made their efforts by waving to the crowd, introducing clapping when appropriate, and playing guitar solos at the edge of the stage. They seemed like a very friendly group of guys as they always had nice things to say like, “I’m happy on a Friday!” and “I’m so wired right now!” Matthew switched singing with the other guitarist Frankie Figliomeni for a couple songs as they are alternating leads. Toward the end of their set, they played “Hey! Ya, You”, a single that plays frequently on Canadian alternative radio. They were playing their guitars, laying on the ground and looked happy as can be. A positive energy that was a great mood to anticipate for Passion Pit.
The Danforth Music Hall was then full, but not tightly packed. A chill but excited vibe. Passion Pit, or non-stage name Michael Angelakos, casually walked on stage with a coffee in hand and waved to the crowd who welcomed him in cheers. He walked to the back of the stage to put down his coffee, then burst into immediate action with “Make Light”, beginning the full track listing of his formal debut “Manners.” The vertical lighting around him beaming between his manic skips back and forth on the stage.
After less than two minutes, he interrupted and stopped the music and asked if a certain audience member was okay. A fan in the third row was feeling dehydrated. She left the audience and was taken by the medical crew. “It’s nice that everyone takes care of everyone here.” Michael said. He still continued to not perform until a medical person confirmed the woman was in care. It was incredibly humbling to see how he wanted to make sure his fans were okay.
Starting over he began “Make Light” again. Going through the “Manners” track listing, every song was met with huge applause and cheers. The crowd was somewhat tame until “Folds In Your Hands” played. It’s high tempo was irresistible to jump around to. What really got the crowd finally loose was the classic hit “Sleepyhead.” The crowd was so loud in singing that song. “I’ve been playing that song for 12 years.” said Michael. It didn’t seem like it was getting old to him either with the smile he had after playing it and the uproarious applause after. He had a small moment to talk where he said he thought about not touring anymore but “has to rethink it” after the loving reaction of fans. After completing “Manners” in its entirety, he played hits from “Gossamer” like “I’ll Be Alright”, “Carried Away”, “Constant Conversations” and ending with “Take a Walk.”
There was no encore, probably by choice, but it didn’t stop fans from dancing around to Passion Pit song that played lightly on the speakers after the show ended.
Passion Pit has made such delightful, manic, and catchy music over the past decade. From the show, the music quite obviously sits deeply with fans. Lifting spirits everywhere. You just can’t leave a Passion Pit show in a bad mood.
Michael seems to also use his music to lift his own mood. He has a history with mental health issues and is very vocal about musicians and artists seeking help and treatment. He founded a company The Wishart Group which connects artists with mental health resources. You can donate and look into it at this link: https://www.wishart.group/donate
Passion Pit, “Make Light”. Passion Pit is light.