W.I.L.D. fall 2009 opening act: Passion Pit

| Cadenza Reporter
Passion Pit performs on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in July. The group will be opening at W.I.L.D. Friday afternoon. (Dana Edelson | NBC Photo)

Passion Pit performs on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in July. The group will be opening at W.I.L.D. Friday afternoon. (Dana Edelson | NBC Photo)

“Higher and higher and higher!” Michael Angelakos cheers on “Little Secrets,” the second song from Passion Pit’s debut album, “Manners.”  This call to new heights is exactly in step with the band’s music as a whole.  Angelakos’ voice pushes the stratosphere as the other four members keep the frenzy up, up, up with fast-fingered strums and dazzling synths.  The whole thing makes for quite the heady experience that suits every moment, from running to (surprisingly) chilling to dancing and, this weekend, W.I.L.D.-ing.

This pit of passion traces its roots to Cambridge, Mass., where lead vocalist Angelakos went to school at Emerson College and gained himself quite a little following with his small list of recordings that were initially meant as a gift for his girlfriend of the time.  When he partnered with the rest of the band in Boston, they pooled their talents together to make their first disc, “Chunk of Change.” The EP quickly gained exposure around the city and on the underground circuit, thrusting Passion Pit into the ranks of such prodigal indie company as The Strokes, Arcade Fire and The National.

Once signed, the band picked up speed by starting recording for their first full-length.  Choosing only one track from “Chunk of Change,” “Sleepyhead,” to be remastered and used on the debut proved to be a smart strategy. By picking the most acclaimed song from the earliest days of the band, Passion Pit was able to draw on past fans as well as gain new ones   The quintet approved ten songs—excluding “Sleepyhead”—that they had recorded and put them in perfect order, as if taught by the best arrangers in the world how to tell a story through chronology.

The rollercoaster begins with “Make Light,” a long song that starts with slamming keyboards and simple scales and continues the trend throughout its five-minute runtime.  Through Angelakos’ ever-rising vocals and the band’s dizzying chaos, the tracks go, until somewhere around the midpoint the pace slows for a second for “Swimming in the Flood.”  By the end, “Seaweed Song” will have any listener captivated by the emotional crescendo it seamlessly evokes.  This is epic music with a beat, and every track is ridiculously catchy.  This is a tremendous achievement because of the subject matter of the songs—the album deals with some of the most devastating topics in human existence with a melancholy and hopelessness that the danceable music belies.  The end result is even more breathtaking due to this dichotomy.

Luckily for Washington University, Passion Pit is coming to this year’s W.I.L.D. festival.  If this doesn’t result in every student rushing out to “buy” their album, there is something wrong in the world.  Every track is golden; this is the sort of album that rushes straight to a person’s top-ten-favorites-ever list.  It’s called “Manners,” but it doesn’t shy away from delivering a shocking blow to any audience that thinks it won’t be pleased by Passion Pit and their music.

Read more about the other performers at this fall’s W.I.L.D.: Method Man and Redman, K’Naan and Deskhop.

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