2019 has proven quite the rollercoaster of nostalgia for millenials. It started with Vampire Weekend’s most recent release and continued in a ragged path, making the occasional stop for the comebacks of artists like the Jonas Brothers, and now, a revisiting of both Batman and the “Twilight” series. (I’m looking at you, Rob.)
It’s a crazy time for pop culture, as the things that colored our youth slowly come back to play. Along this wild ride was electronic act Passion Pit’s stop at the Royal Oak Music Theater last Thursday, as frontman Michael Angelakos performed their debut album for its tenth anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the release of memorable hits like “Moth’s Wings” and “Sleepyhead” on Manners, the album that cemented Angelakos’s soaring falsetto into the musical consciousness of millions. And yet, the songs have marinated with time, taking on new meaning in the wake of a decade of momentous change.
Angelakos has had a rough run in the last few years, beginning with a divorce and continuing with a struggle against mental illness. The artist has been outspoken about his battle with bipolar disorder, one that spurred him to form “The Wishart Group,” an organization offering medical and legal services to musicians with a special emphasis on mental health. Beyond these steps to help others, Angelakos has been increasingly transparent about his own journey in interviews and on social media, something that did not change for the live show.
“When we finished our last tour, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to tour again,” the singer admitted, sitting at the front of the stage drenched in sweat. He adjusted his tie and stood. “But I made it, and this has been an incredible experience.” The crowd screamed in support and Angelakos stood on the monitors, looking out into the sea of people clapping and jumping. The look in his eyes was one of the deepest gratitude I’ve ever seen, something that made an already frenetic show even more profound. Passion Pit’s music is a euphoric synthesis of life, and Angelakos knows this better than anyone. Understanding the meaning behind the music made it all the more special for those in the auditorium.
The show was a spectacle, but on simple terms: The band was laid in low light at the back of the stage, accentuating Angelakos’ high-energy performance with colored sparks. He was constantly running across the stage, only pausing to take time during the most popular songs — namely, ones from Manners and the band’s sophomore album Gossamer. In these pauses, he connected with the audience on a deeper level, singing directly to those in the front row.
Angelakos was clad in his signature show gear, consisting of a shirt, tie and slacks that might seem better suited for an office than a stage. But this appearance was part of the experience at large, in a different way. The frontman showed the audience that he was one of us, sweat dripping down his white oxford in a hazy celebration of life. It was as if he had just gotten off work and decided to dance his heart out: a situation for which Passion Pit’s music is absolutely perfect.