Passion Pit connects with CMU audience
Not even the cold, less-than-ideal weather could keep students from gathering on the College of Fine Arts lawn to watch Passion Pit perform live. As Spring Carnival 2012 came to an end, Carnegie Mellon students and non-affiliated Pittsburghers alike came together at the concert, sponsored by AB Concerts, which began with a performance by WRCT’s DJ Gusto and local band Donora.
At 7:30 p.m., Gusto began mixing music to entertain the growing crowd. According to Gusto’s fan and friend, Deren Guler — a master’s student in architecture who waved a supportive sign during his friend’s performance — the DJ uses Serato turntables, allowing him to scratch music playing from his computer instead of phonographic records.
“He uses a lot of hip hop and electronic — it’s accessible stuff, but he keeps it interesting. He has really great flow and rhythm. It’s never choppy,” Guler said. “He has awesome Hispanic and Latin influences as well.”
Gusto wrapped up after 30 minutes; the stage was then readjusted for local indie pop sensation, Donora. The band, headed by vocalist and guitarist Casey Hanner, opened with its song “The Untouchables.” The group’s vibrant onstage presence was matched by colorful images exploding onto a projection screen.
“You’re all very brave for coming out in this weather. But I don’t blame you, because I want to see Passion Pit too,” Hanner said to the crowd.
During the band’s performance of the song “Mancini’s Dance Hall,” a large inflatable penguin — which would later end up in the hands of Passion Pit’s lead vocalist Michael Angelakos — began to make its way through the crowd.
Passion Pit finally took the stage at around 9:20 p.m., welcomed by the deafening din of an anxious audience. The tangible excitement was reciprocated by the band. Angelakos almost never stood still, jumping and moving from one side of the stage to the other, as he worked his way through the set of songs. The band played the familiar hits that made it popular, including “Better Things” and “Sleepyhead,” as well as a number of songs from its upcoming album.
Before performing the new song “Carried Away,” Angelakos spotted an enthusiastic audience member towering over the crowd as he stood upright on the shoulders of another concert-goer.
“You,” Angelakos said, pointing right at the fan, “have impeccable balance. I want to see how long you can keep that up. Stay right there. I’m going to sing this next song directly to you.”
Angelakos continued to build a rapport with the audience throughout the show, making explicit declarations of his positive feelings for Carnegie Mellon’s campus and students. He also asked that the audience promise to attend the next show Passion Pit performs in Pittsburgh.
Sophomore physics major Samuel Greess thought Passion Pit was an excellent choice for this year’s Spring Carnival concert. “Much better than Big Boi,” he said, referencing last year’s performer. “They’re a good band. I’m a fan, and I’ve been to their concert before.”
Hannah Douglas, a first-year student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was also enthusiastic about AB’s choice of Passion Pit for the concert. “I’m proud of CMU. I love that the school is so in touch with what’s popular with our generation,” she said.
While the general sentiment among audience members was positive, the concert was not unanimously well-received. Sophomore chemical engineering major Ian Dolan was among the disappointed, saying of Passion Pit’s music, “I think the melodies are weak, the harmonies are trite, and the overall feel is boring.”
After an encore performance, the concert literally ended with a bang: The annual fireworks display was the perfect finale to the exciting night, bringing Spring Carnival 2012 to a close.