Passion Pit stuns and invigorates at Electric Factory (photos, review, setlist)

How do you react when strife befalls you? “I took a walk!” belts Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos Thursday night at the Electric Factory, during his band’s opening number. The crowd jumps up and down chanting the refrain, while Angelakos stumbles across the stage like a drunk marionette, clutching his microphone tightly. 2012 has certainly been a strife-ridden year for the 25-year-old singer, whose much-publicized mental health issues forced the band to cancel a string of tour dates earlier this year. Tonight though, Angelakos seems to be taking his own advice, walking in frenzied circles as if to deal with the pain.

That’s not to say the occasion is a somber one — far from it. The venue is nearly sold-out and the crowd is pumped. And between passion-drenched numbers like “Take a Walk” are moments of pure pop brilliance — like “Walk” follower “The Reeling”  — whose bubbly exuberance make the cathartic numbers that much more powerful. It’s a duality Angelakos has long embodied, which he credits (or perhaps blames) on his bipolar disorder—and which is particularly pronounced on new record Gossamer, the soulful and introspective follow-up to 2009’s poppy Manners.

Gossamer tracks make up about half the set tonight, although Passion Pit don’t deny fans early hits like “To Kingdom Come” and “Eyes as Candles,” both of which send the crowd into dancing fits. But it’s new groove “Carried Away” that’s the real set highlight, a wave of uncontrolled fervor sweeping the room as thousands of voices shout, in unison: “We all have problems…and we all have something to say!” Might Angelakos be the spokesperson for today’s restless youth?

“Constant Conversations” is another standout, Angelakos’s smooth crooning and effortless falsetto transporting the crowd to the 1960’s, somewhere in Motown—while “Live to Tell the Tale” accentuates its bleeps and bloops with a barrage of flashing strobes. And penultimate track “I’ll be Alright” is a striking juxtaposition of sugary vocals and intensely personal lyrics about pill-popping and self-loathing: drummer Nate Donmoyer’s frenzied beats lending the unlikely combo dance floor vigor.

The band ends its set with saccharine Manners morsel “Sleepyhead,” a shower of confetti streaming down from the ceiling as the crowd dances even harder. The encore sees impassioned versions of “Moth’s Wings” and “Little Secrets,” the whole room reeling as more confetti and glitter rain down and Angelakos pours his soul out once more. It’s clear from watching that performing live is a release for Angelakos—and the result is invigorating for the crowd as well. Why walk when you can dance?

Setlist:

Take a Walk
The Reeling
To Kingdom Come
It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy
Carried Away
Let Your Love Grow Tall
Eyes as Candles
Constant Conversations
Mirrored Sea
Live to Tell the Tale
Folds in Your Hands
Love Is Greed
I’ll Be Alright
Sleepyhead

Encore:

Moth’s Wings
Little Secrets