Passion Pit Celebrate Manners With Gig On A Boat Cruise

Band performs on a boat cruising in the Hudson River for its record-release party.

NEW YORK — We’ve been to some unusual record-release parties, but [url id="http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/passion_pit/artist.jhtml"]Passion Pit[/url]‘s — held on a boat cruising New York Harbor on Monday night — just might take the cake.

The Boston quintet — who we spent a day with at the
CMJ Music Marathon last year — is riding high on positive reviews and Internet buzz for their debut LP, Manners, which was released Tuesday (May 19). So in celebration of their album release (as well as frontman Michael Angelakos’ 22nd birthday), the band took to the open seas — or at least the Hudson River — and played an hour-long set for a ship full of eager seafaring guests.

Even before the band took the stage, it was clear that the crowd of New York hipsters was excited to be taking part in such a unique experience. As the partygoers danced to music from DJs, MTV News sat down with Passion Pit in the galley (that’s ship-speak for “kitchen”), and they were psyched to be performing their debut full-length album in such a unique setting. While talking about their specific reasons for wanting to be playing a set of mostly new material in the rough waves of New York Harbor, Angelakos mused that playing in an unconventional locale seemed fitting considering the conditions under which they recorded Manners.

These days, bands garner buzz so quickly that they end up rushing their recordings in order to finish them before the buzz wears off. It’s a reality Passion Pit had to deal with as well.

“Things just started happening so quickly and unexpectedly that it was really hard to grapple with what was going on,” Angelakos said. But he added that many of the songs were “based on improvisation and gut feelings,” which the band would then go back over and re-evaluate and see what worked and what didn’t. “I think it really encapsulates what we stand for, which is on-the-fly, very explosive energetic music.”

The band decided that music was perfect for an unconventional record-release party. “This album presented so many different challenges and things we had to deal with, we really wanted to celebrate in a different way,” Angelakos reflected. But then synth player Ayad Al Adhamy chimed in with what everyone was already thinking: “And boats are fun!”

Clearly, playing on a boat (not to mention premiering a lot of new material) comes with challenges, chiefly the fact that the venue is constantly moving. Bassist Jeff Apruzzese said that setting up on the boat “was probably one of the hardest sound checks we’ve ever done, because of the rocking back and forth.” Drummer Nate Donmoyer even had to leave their soundcheck briefly because of seasickness.

But if the band was worried, it didn’t show once they took the stage. Fans crowded around the small stage area and danced enthusiastically — and dancing is not easy on a crowded seafaring vessel. You haven’t seen audience enthusiasm until you’ve seen dozens of people swaying in unison, trying to keep their balance and dance as the floor rocks back and forth …