Back in 2009, a band by the name of Passion Pit – hailing from Boston, Massachusetts – made waves around the world with their debut LP Manners, just as their debut EP Chunk of Change had done the year prior with tracks like “Sleepyhead” and my personal favourite, “Cuddle Fuddle”. But Manners was truly a breakout smash, with “Sleepyhead” making its way back into wider release and “Little Secrets” becoming one of the biggest hits of a year that was flooded by Indie Rock goodness.
And it was the sort of album that felt like it could do no wrong: “Moth’s Wings”, “To Kingdom Come”, “The Reeling” and “Let Your Love Grow Tall” became instant dance floor additions and favourites of the era. And now, the album is one of many Indie Rock classics celebrating its 10th anniversary, and so following on from last year’s run for the 10th anniversary of Chunk of Change, Michael Angelakos and a touring lineup are currently touring North America to celebrate ten years of Manners. And last night they landed in Toronto, where I was able to catch the band play the now classic album in full, alongside some fan favourites.
Kicking off proceedings were The Elwins – who filled in for the main tour support The Beaches, presumably due to the latter’s scheduled support slot with Rolling Stones later in the year. But The Elwins held their own; the relatively local Ontario quartet (playing as a quintet with their “new Dad” Andrew) playing old favourites and new ones like “Let It Be The One”, which was fast paced and effortlessly fun – which can be said for a lot of the songs they played tonight. It made them a pretty damn fine fit for the headliner if I do say so myself. And there was some great instrumentation too – with, at one moment, the two guitarists back to back and jamming. “Hey, Ya You” ended their very well received set.
And smack on 915pm, Michael Angelakos and his merry men jumped on stage, where they tore right into “Make Light”. This happened before a brief pause when an incident up front meant they needed to turn the lights on, and they wouldn’t restart the set until they made sure the person involved was OK. I think someone may have passed out? But I witnessed from a distance. Restarting the set, the rest went off without a hitch and they then ran through the album in order – meaning one of their biggest hits, “Little Secrets” came second, and served to really get the party started.
It didn’t take long for me to have flashbacks of seeing them on the main stage at Splendour in the Grass 2010, where a band who had hit an early career peak held over 10,000 people in the palm of their hands – myself included. The lineup is quite different now, though, with Angelakos the only remaining member from the original lineup. In this respect, the show lacks some authenticity of its origins, but the three piece that have been touring with Michael since 2015 are a well oiled troupe nonetheless, and sounded fantastic. Interestingly, they sit draped mostly in darkness in the back, surrounded by a great light show.
Michael jumped around for the entire set, positioning himself at the far front of the stage. When he played “Sleepyhead”, he reminisced about the fact he’s “been belting that song out for 12 years”, thanking the crowd for singing along. Later, he talked about how great these run of shows have been (tonight included) and how much fun he’s been having. He went on to say that the whole experience has been making him rethink his earlier position that maybe this should be the last Passion Pit tour. So hopefully these dates get extended to other parts of the world, like Australia who have been waiting a long time to see the band again, after their last tour was cancelled due to illness. “Sleepyhead” was obviously a huge singalong, as was “Let Your Love Grow Tall”, which saw a bit of a jam at its end.
Though they weren’t off Manners, most of the tracks in the Gossamer focused encore resonated well with the crowd (only one other track – “Lifted Up (1985)” off of Kindred – was included). “Carried Away” is of particular mention, as it seems to have done better in Canada than it had in Australia judging by the reception. And then their 2012 hit “Take A Walk” kept those good singalongs going, and helped close out the night before a bow. Or, more specifically, before the rest of the band picked Michael up in a “three cheers for the birthday boy!” sort of moment, and then carried him off stage.
Michael’s voice was stunning, the band were great and there was a quality light show to boot. It turns out that a night with Passion Pit is just as fun as it was a decade ago – I just opt to hang towards the back of the room these days… but the dancing remains fierce.
Eyes As Candles
Swimming in the Flood
Folds in Your Hands
To Kingdom Come
Let Your Love Grow Tall
I’ll Be Alright
Lifted Up (1985)
Take A Walk
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Passion Pit and The Elwins played at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, Canada on 17th May 2019.
The five remaining dates of the Manners North American tour are below, and for more details head to their official website.
May 19 – Niagara Falls, N.Y. @ The Rapids Theatre
May 21 – New York, N.Y. @ Pier 17 at South Street Seaport
May 23 – Boston, Mass. @ House of Blues
May 24 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ The Fillmore
May 25 – Washington D.C. @ The Anthem