• On the Scene

    Passion Pit’s Firefly Performance Cut Short

    What does a band do when its lead singer loses his voice mid-show?

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

    While the Firefly Music Festival was an overall success, sound issues plagued several acts over the course of the weekend. Faulty mics spoiled otherwise solid sets by Public Enemy and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  

    On Sunday Passion Pit also had problems with their vocals, but in this case the culprit wasn’t technical… it was allergies.  

    Clearly the Firefly fates have it in for Passion Pit. Last year the band had to cancel their performance at the fest so that frontman Michael Angelakos could undergo treatment for his bipolar disorder. This year they at least got to take the stage, but only for an abbreviated set.  

    Diving right in with “I’ll Be Alright,” “The Reeling” and “Carried Away,” the band – and in particular drummer Nate Donmoyer and bassist Jeff Apruzzese – displayed a powerful musicianship that explodes in a live setting much more so than on record. Only after slowing things down for “To Kingdom Come” did Angelakos confess to the crowd that he needed help singing, because allergies had caused him to lose his voice. He also referenced last year’s cancellation by saying he “can’t catch a f-cking break with this festival.”  

    From that point on, the vocal issues became more noticeable with each passing song. High notes were especially problematic. Yet he soldiered on, and the crowd rallied behind him, willing him to make it through the show.  

    can’t catch a f-cking break with this festival

    - Michael Angelakos

    Just seven songs in, Angelakos raised the white flag, admitting “I don’t know how long I can go.” At that point the band threw out their setlist and chose to “wrap this up with songs people know.”  

    This meant a triple shot of their biggest hits, starting with “Take a Walk.” “Little Secrets” came next, although when Angelakos opened his mouth to sing the opening lines, no sound came out. For the finale, “Sleepyhead,” he didn’t even attempt to sing, instead venturing into the audience as a chorus of 30,000 fans took over. Some quick thanks, an apology, and it was over, the band leaving the stage barely 45 minutes after they started. 

    Despite the obvious disappointment, there were no boos, no heckles, no demands for a refund. Instead the audience proved to be understanding and sympathetic.  

    Passion Pit’s fans clearly want to see Angelakos succeed. Perhaps next year he can finally give Firefly the full set they’ve been waiting for.