Passion Pit are a lesson in modern romance. Ever since I heard their backstory – lead singer Michael Angelakos crafted the EP Chunk of Change as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend – I knew they would be more to me than just a fling in my musical lifetime. But I never imagined my first close encounter with them would pan out like a fairy tale of its own.
The show was sold out when my companion (I’ll call her Merv) and I arrived at Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa’s go-to live music club. It was shocking enough that a band this sought-after detoured so far into Canada, and even more surprising that the resident’s of Ottawa had enough forethought to buy advance tickets. Not about to give up on our night, Merv and I stuck it out in line until a lush pair of hipsters were escorted from the premises, freeing up some elbow room for the two of us.
The timing could hardly have been more perfect: Passion Pit hit the stage the moment Merv and I were safely inside. They played “Moth’s Wings” and “The Reeling”, and captured the layered essence of their recordings by cramming the stage with a drum kit, synthesizers and more than one stringed instrument. Angelakos sauntered about the clutter, exuding a sort of romantic sex appeal that comes only from a hairy-chested twenty-something singing love songs in falsetto. He hardly spoke a word to the crowd until he announced the last song, “Sleepyhead”, and yet the crowd was hanging on every pulse of the music.
During the beat-heavy intro, I was struck by a cold drop on the back of my neck. It wasn’t the warm sweat trickling from my hairline, nor the condensation from the beer bottle being waved above my head by the girl behind me. It was a drip from the ceiling, releasing its own blend of perspiration - the sort of moment John Hughes would have orchestrated.
On our way to the dingy bathrooms to clean up after the show, we bumped into Jeff (bass) and Ayad (synths/samplers) who informed us Nate (drums) was hosting an after party at a yet unknown venue downtown. In our individual stalls, Merv and I stressed how on earth we were going to find this mystery location. Because after seeing Passion Pit, the only thing you want is more. Then a voice floated under the door: “Cafe Dekcuf.” And I kid you not, when we emerged to the sinks, the bathroom was empty. Spooky.
Dekcuf yielded little more than one dedicated V-necked dancer, but the bar was lined with drenched showgoers desperately trying to rehydrate. Not much of a climax, just a welcome rest following the show. But the state of the audience certainly spoke to the calibre of Passion Pit’s stage presence – all sweat, smiles and perhaps a stumble here or there – it was one of the most successful dance shows I’ve ever attended.
And here I was doubting Passion Pit would mean anything to me in two weeks time. I’m not being facetious when I say there’s a happily ever after here.