Passion Pit – Madison Square Garden – February 8, 2013
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night prevents a proper concertgoer from heading out to see his or her favorite band play a live show. The harsh element on Friday night was a blizzard, but it was matched by an equally momentous event: Passion Pit at a packed Madison Square Garden. And thousands of fans braved the weather and trudged through the snow en masse, chapped lips and soggy socks be damned. They were met onstage by a mirror image of themselves. Michael Angelakos, the main force behind Passion Pit, had a score to settle, and he wasn’t going to let anything slow him down. “About seven months ago, they told me we would never tour again,” he announced defiantly early in the set. “And now we’re in Madison Square Garden.” They obviously were dead wrong—and continue to be more wrong than they could have possibly imagined. Passion Pit filled the Garden, and they did so with the aplomb and sizzle of a veteran band seasoned on the arena circuit.
Looking sharp in a black, slim-fit suit and feeling daring (did I spot brown shoes and matching tie?), Angelakos navigated the stage like a young Mick Jagger while doling out hit after hit. Even though they just released their sophomore LP, Gossamer, Passion Pit favored cuts from Manners, the 2010 album that launched the band to indie stardom. I didn’t keep score, but I’m fairly certain they played the entirety of that record. It was the right move, as the crowd sang along deliriously to Angelakos’s sneakily catchy hooks from favorites like “Little Secrets” (“Higher and higher and higher / Higher and higher and higher”) and “The Reeling” (“Oh noooooooo / Oh nooooooooo”). Of course, “Sleepyhead,” which Passion Pit played as their short and sweet encore, was the standout of the album and the night, catapulting thousands of smiling fans into the air. If any of Angelakos’s doubters were in the crowd on Friday, a screaming and undulating Garden would have persuaded them of their folly: Passion Pit are absolutely an arena band, and their career is just beginning. —Alex Kapelman