10 years ago, Passion Pit changed the alternative landscape with their debut album Manners. Their debut possessed an emblematic sound quite exclusive to the new millennium, taking rock, indie, electronic, pop, and other siloed genres and shoving them into one dance-centric “electropop” bucket. Songs like “Sleepyhead”, “Little Secrets”, and “Moth’s Wings” forced listeners to either love or hate this new, polarizing space of 21st-century musical energy. Manners provided a new soundtrack for youthful get-togethers, redefined what it meant to be mainstream in 2009, and helped establish a token sound for the millennial generation as a whole.
One decade and hundreds of millions of streams later, Passion Pit felt it was time to pay tribute to the album that made them a household name. Their Manners 10th Anniversary Tour brought them back to their hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, this time to a House of Blues crowd ten times as large as the crowds they saw when Manners first debuted. “I’m pretty sure the first time we played these songs was at the Great Scott” said lead singer Michael Angelakos, referring to a smaller Boston venue about 2 miles away from House of Blues. “It was fucking insane.”
Due to his prominence as the centerpiece and brainchild of Passion Pit, Michael Angelakos was physically separated from the rest of the band during Passion Pit’s entire performance. A series of lighting fixtures, AV equipment, and clear sound barriers were placed in front of the other band members, thus creating a virtual wall between Angelakos and his supporting cast. He was a the star of the show, there was no way around it.
This presented Passion Pit with an interesting strategic quandary, as despite what Manners‘ upbeat tempo may lead you to believe, Angelakos’s distaste for touring is well-documented. As a result, the first few songs of the night were succumb to a lull in quality. The album’s first few tracks “Make Light”, “Little Secrets”, and “Moth’s Wings” were entertaining and energetic, but Angelakos still looked uneasy. His movements and tone resembled a dynamic warm-up rather than a performance perfected over a decade. It was clear he needed to feel comfortable with himself before truly connecting with the crowd.
The conclusion of “Moth’s Wings” finally loosened up Angelakos a few songs into the set. The softer, more introspective ballad seemed to allow him to detach from the audience for a few minutes while he slowly but surely fell into his own comfort zone. The tension in his voice began to relax, his stage movements didn’t appear rehearsed or robotic, and he started to explore the limits of his live craft. That level of comfort allowed him to be more talkative, as he went on to explain to the audience, “I’ve been on record my entire career saying touring was not really my thing. But something happened when we went on this tour…I’ve never been so happy”.
He wasn’t exclusively happy about his own experiences either. He outwardly discussed being happy to have such great bandmates/teammates working together with him. He discussed being happy that such an amazing community had rallied around his music. Most of all, he was especially happy about celebrating the tenth anniversary of anything, let alone his debut album.
As expected, Angelakos’s acquired sense of empathetic satisfaction brought with it a more carefree, entertaining performance from the rest of Passion Pit. Ironically however, the concert’s most rowdy and exciting moments came after every song on Manners was played in full. Passion Pit’s encore saw them smartly transition into the first four tracks off their sophomore album Gossamer, the front half of which houses a handful of hit songs anyone with a radio would recognize. “Take A Walk” and “Carried Away” compelled young adults to jump around the House of Blues like kids in a bouncy castle. A sea of smiles cascaded over the venue as Passion Pit reminded the hoard of twenty-something year-olds about the music that gave their difficult teenage years some shimmering moments of genuine happiness.
Below is a playlist featuring every song performed by Passion Pit during their 2019 trip to Boston’s House of Blues.
Favorite live tracks: Take A Walk, Sleepyhead, Carried Away, The Reeling, To Kingdom Come