Jason Nocito Passion Pit lead singer Michael Angelakos took to Twitter Sunday…
- Posted on Nov 18th 2010 2:00PM by Carlos Ramirez
Joseph Llanes for AOL
Although their debut album, 'Manners,' has been out for over a year, its dazzling blend of New-Wave-kissed synths and lilting vocal melodies is still being discovered by legions of new fans, so it's no surprise that the group's promotional duties for the day are so crammed. Besides opening for Muse at the famed Staples Center later that night, they will also film an acoustic video performance, do a meet-and-greet session with a room full of fans and do a couple of interviews in between -- such is the life of a popular working band.
After we're all briefed on the schedule, we split up into groups and leave the hotel at 12:15PM. Spinner hops into a cab with Angelakos as we head to AEG Digital Media which is located in a section of downtown now called L.A. Live. It's the city's own version of Times Square, with restaurants, music venues and camera-carrying tourists flanking the scenery. While we walk over, Spinner asks him if the wear and tear of touring is giving his voice trouble, as many of Passion Pit's vocal lines find Angelakos singing in an almost falsetto range. "Yeah, singing the way I do is taxing," he says. "When I started doing this, I wasn't thinking about going out on the road and singing everything night after night."
Anyone who has tried to sing along to the impossibly high notes of songs like 'Little Secrets' and 'Let Your Love Grow Tall' knows how lofty a task it is, but as we learned later on that day, Angelakos' live delivery does not disappoint. "I'm getting better at preserving my voice as we tour more, so it's a learning process of what works and doesn't work," he says.
We find some shade alongside one of the buildings at L.A. Live and while we wait for Hultquist and the rest of their travelling rock circus, an attractive blonde woman approaches Angelakos from out of nowhere and tells him he's "very attractive." Even by L.A. standards, this was a pretty strange moment. At first, the vocalist didn't really know how to react -- we even looked around for a television crew, as if we all might be on some bad reality show. But after 30 seconds or so of awkward conversation, the two exchanged a polite hug and the blonde was on her way. The funniest part of the entire thing was that she didn't even know Angelakos was even in a band. "That was so weird! I wonder if she did that for some kind of sorority hazing," he says. I f---ing hate L.A."
When the other half of our group arrives at L.A. Live, we tell them about what had just happened, and after some good-natured ribbing from Hultquist, we walk over to AEG Digital Media where the pair will be tape an acoustic performance for 'Nokia Inside Track.' We enter the building at 1PM and head upstairs where we're greeted by producers from Nokia. We're led through an office maze of cubicles and hallways when we finally arrive in a state-of-the-art soundstage filled with camera and audio technicians. After giving their truncated set list to the director, the duo get onstage for a quick sound check and run through the material with the kind of carefree finesse usually reserved for veteran performers. "I like how the acoustic guitars sound right there," a laidback Hultquist says.
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Passion Pit -- A Day in the Life
Immediately after their sound check, Angelakos and Hultquist are brought into a separate section of the studio to do a closed-door interview for the Nokia folks. After 15 minutes or so, the duo joins us for a few minutes of relaxation before their taped acoustic performance. "It's fun to do these acoustic kinds of things, because you go to focus on the lyrics and vocal melody," Angelakos says.
We then are treated to a practice run of 'Moth's Wings,' which sounds even prettier than it does on 'Manners' in this intimate setting. Hultquist's chiming guitar lines interweave with Angelakos' honeyed vocal like some kind of long-lost AM radio ballad. They go through a couple more song fragments when one of the Nokia producers lets them know they will be performing in less than two minutes. By now, the soundstage is packed with Passion Pit fans who won the chance to attend the special performance.
A little later, Angelakos and Hultquist leave their dressing room and enter the brightly led AEG Digital Media soundstage. Once inside, they are showered with a loud applause from the crowd that has eagerly been awaiting the duo on a set that is made to look and feel like a living room. A row of leather couches and loveseats form a half circle in front of the high stools the guys will be sitting on. Angelakos greets the audience and then he and Hultquist treat everyone in attendance to a hushed take on their panoramic brand of indie pop. With its already catchy chorus getting more of a spotlight in the stripped-down arrangement, the college radio staple 'Sleepyhead' sounds especially potent.
Joseph Llanes for AOL
Like the acoustic performance, the meet-and-greet goes off without a hitch. The guys then put their guitars away and we all journey through the offices again and onto to our next destination. Before we leave, the Nokia producers and marketing folks thank Passion Pit for their appearance and have them sign some autographs.
When we get outside the Center, we're hit with the unforgiving heat of the afternoon sun. What was an already busy downtown is even more crowded with people walking in and out of the many restaurants that are located within the L.A. Live area. Later that night, Passion Pit will be performing across the street at the Staples Center with Muse, the platinum-plus power trio that handpicked the newcomers to open a run of dates on their tour. The cavernous arena seats well over 20,000 during concert events, leading Spinner to ask Angelakos if he's nervous to play such a huge room. "Yeah, it's not something that I thought I would ever get to do, but we're ready," he reveals. "We're playing here two nights in a row, so that should also help."
Joseph Llanes for AOL
Passion Pit's dressing room has everything one would expect from a rock 'n' roll backstage area: alcohol, deli meats, snacks and bottles of water. But there's one thing that stands out like sore thumb. Off to the side of the room, there's a case of Pedialyte sitting in a cooler. "It's perfect for keeping hydrated after performing a set. I know it looks strange back here, but it really does its job," says Angelakos before fixing himself a cup of tea. After a brief chat, which you can view in the video above, Angelakos and Hultquist rejoin their bandmates for lunch and prep for the show.
A few hours later, Spinner witnesses Passion Pit's electrifying opening set at the Staples Center, a commanding performance that surely takes a lot of people in the arena by surprise. Despite not having the massive light rig that Muse will display later in the night, Angelakos and company rise to the occasion and let their multilayered melodies fill the humongous room. If there's one thing for sure, it shouldn't be long before Passion Pit return to venues this size -- as headliners.