NOT OUR LITTLE SECRET It was good to have Passion Pit back in town.
When Passion Pit were conceived five years ago out of an Emerson College dorm, the result of a Valentine's Day gift of love songs Michael Angelakos crafted for his then-girlfriend, electro-pop really hadn't yet taken hold of popular alternative music. Fast forward to 2012, and clones of the band are everywhere, from stateside here in Michigan (the very-awesome Stepdad) to the other side of the globe in New Zealand (the Naked and Famous should be paying royalties).
So when the band returned to Boston last Friday for two live performances — a stripped-down WFNX afternoon session at the Museum of Fine Arts, then later at a nearly sold-out and very damp Bank of America Pavilion — it was more than a homecoming to their collective adopted hometown. Yes, they arrived for schooling here in Boston from places like Chicago and Buffalo, and now five years later all live elsewhere, like Brooklyn and Dallas, but there's something somehow both very Boston about Passion Pit and yet something so very un-Boston about them.
Friday afternoon at the MFA's Alfond Auditorium, Angelakos and guitarist Ian Hultquist performed four songs — two off 2009's Manners, two off the long-awaited follow-up, Gossamer (out July 24) — that showed the core pop craftsmanship of their chief songwriter. "Sleepyhead," in particular, took on new life as a strummed guitar ballad, free from the falsetto and bombast that accompanies it in its usual format. "Is anyone coming tonight?," Angelakos asked the crowd of roughly 50. When he was met with a weak response, he playfully noted, "Guess that's the same amount of people that will buy the album." Perhaps fearing most will hear the new album without paying for it, he later asked, "Did you guys stream the song for free on Pandora?"
A few hours later at the Pavilion, after an hour-long power outage at the seaside venue that pushed back their start time and crunched the opening DJ set by Boston's Die Young, the band, now a six-piece, exploded with their usual energy and fought the still tide of a seated venue. The live debut of "I'll Be Alright" sounded like a chopped n' sped "Sleepyhead" in reverse before its booming chorus, and revved-up club hit "The Reeling" sent thousands of hands "higher and higher" into the air. For a day, at least, our boys were back in town.