The electronic indie-pop group Passion Pit was due to play downtown Knoxville venue The Valarium in early July, but cancelled only forty eight hours in advance due to lead singer Michael Angelakos' mental health.
Although these reasons seemed suspicious, after articles and videos were released online, it was obvious that Angelakos had major personal problems that kept him from performing.
Fast forward two months and Passion Pit reschedules the show on Sept. 18 to promote "Gossamer", the album the released in July, where Angelakos was not only smiling and laughing on stage but also filled the venue with a beautiful sound that cannot truly be compared to anything else.
Passion Pit's performance began with their single "Take a Walk" off their new album and set the bar for the rest of the concert; as they began to play, the audience immediately erupted with life after a long twenty minute wait, and soon after harmonious music was vibrating through the room and every member of the crowd.
The band played quite a variety of their work, beyond just what's on their new album, including most of their popular songs, such as "Little Secrets" and "The Reeling."
Rhett Abrahamson, Knoxville resident since 2000, had never attended a concert before Passion Pit and did not quite know what to expect from the experience.
"The crowd was quiet and non-attentive—then as soon as Michael and (his) bandmates walked on (stage), the crowd went nuts and only got crazier," Abrahamson said. "I didn't think I'd get so sucked into the music, I'm a big fan and all, but all that energy was overwhelming."
The band was set up mostly around Angelakos, putting the focus on him, which is understandable; Passion Pit began as a one-man-band of just him and his music.
Writing all his music and producing it as well, Angelakos is an extremely personal musician, which was apparent on stage; his emotions were brought out in the song "Constant Conversations", where he became more focused and a bit somber, bringing an austere feel to the concert. The mood was quickly lightened as Angelakos started to laugh and mess around with the drummer.
Passion Pit initially became popular with their "Chunks of Change" EP, which featured the band's most well-known song, "Sleepyhead." This upbeat and fun song with complex lyrics closed the set accompanied with streamers along the crowd, whose energy was beyond intense at this point of the concert. After chants and protests, Angelakos and the band came back on stage to perform three more songs as their encore.
Although rather small for such a well-known headlining band, the Valarium was a good setting for the concert. The open floor allowed concert-goers to interact with Angelakos by singing into the microphone when he pointed it at the audience and was perfect for taking photos.
The attendance was not overbearing, and the lights and production of the show essentially added that extra something to accompany the music that truly made the concert unforgettable.
For Alyssa Johnson, freshman in studio art and first-time Valarium visitor, the venue proved to be a little unsettling.
"I walked here from campus and it's definitely in a shady part of town," Johnson said of The Valarium. "I would have liked to see (Passion Pit) in a nicer venue."
Two fairly new California-based bands opened for Passion Pit, Pacific Air and The Neighborhood. Pacific Air, which has only performed six times before, showed promise with exciting tunes that hyped up the crowd for Passion Pit's anticipated appearance. Jose Mejia, freshman in social and public policy, enjoyed Pacific Air's six song set.
"I really liked them, I think they have potential," Mejia said. "They are bright and going somewhere, plus Passion Pit knows a winner when they spot them."
The other opening band, The Neighborhood, was quite dreary and disappointing with meaningless lyrics and music that faded to the background, making the crowd impatient and eager for Passion Pit.
Abrahamson highly enjoyed the production of the show and appreciated Passion Pit's extra effort.
"The best part was the double encore, it felt like an apology for the cancelation they made in July...it was nice to see that extra effort for the fans," Abrahamson said.
Passion Pit's performance as a whole was truly incredible. When considering their music and how electronic it really is, it is hard to imagine how that sound could be reproduced live with the same level of quality their albums have. With the main emphasis on vocals and the instruments being played on stage juxtaposed with the lesser audible and noticeable synthesizers and electronics, the live music had that undefinable quality that just cannot be captured on tape.
Abrahamson, who personally connects with the deep and dark lyrics of Passion Pit, said that he can see Passion Pit only getting better.
"I think that the future of the band and Michael is a lot like their first (song) on the EP 'Chunk of Change'—'Better things are coming,'" Abrahamson said.