Live Review: Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 4/8 @ Fitzgerald’s

9 Apr

Source Unknown

With their second full-length album, Belong, released on March 29th, Pains of Being Pure at Heart have embarked on a full-US tour.

After much anticipation, and a canceled session at Cactus Records, Pains finally stopped by Houston for the first time on Friday to play on the same bill as Warpaint, who headlined the upstairs room while Pains topped the bill below.

The Watermarks opened for Pains, bringing energy to those who came early enough to catch them. The Houston-based band (who are giving their music away for free) have an electronic, pop-grunge sound. It’s hard to explain, but when hearing them live, you can hear remnants of The Smashing Pumpkins and Pixies, as well as bands like R.E.M. The band is set to play Free Press Summer Fest this June.

Twin Shadow, who is on tour and scheduled to open for Pains, had to cancel due to an illness.

At around 10:30, Pains finally took the stage. What first struck me is that the band had always performed as a quartet until this point. The group, which comprised of lead vocalist/guitarist, Kip Berman, keyboardist/vocalist, Peggy Wang, as well as drummer Kurt Feldman and bassist Alex Naidus, was quaint and minimal. However, Friday night they had Christopher Hochheim playing guitar.

I’m not sure if Hochheim, pictured above – far right, is a permanent fixture, but I will say that his additional guitar playing added to the aesthetic of the band more than took away from it.

In the crowded room, the sound came off of the stage in waves and proved to be more of an experience than I anticipated. The band was every bit as charming on stage as they are on record. Wang flirted innocently, peeking from behind her long hair with a smile that seemed to sum up the vibe of the band — blissfully shocked. Although I couldn’t hear the entirety of what he was saying, Berman spoke briefly between songs to mention their excitement to be there and how thankful they were that Houston came out for the show.

The band, who hail from New York City, brought an old-school feel to Fitz – a venue that has been around for more than 30 years. With walls that have heard their fair share of nu wave acts, Pains seemed as if they were paying homage to the history of the venue. Their flawless approach to the aging and increasingly hard-to-get-right genre made it all the more enjoyable. It was as if I were being time warped back to 1985, when hair was big and bands like The Talking Heads were dominating the airwaves.

For those who have yet to hear their latest album, it’s safe to say that the follow-up holds much more than a candle to their debut. As I said on Twitter, Belongs sounds more like The Cure and less like The Smiths. They’ve gone from a softer, more ethereal-sounding nu wave act to on that is teetering on the edge of the NYC punk-rock edge. The guitars are harder, but they’ve managed to keep their dreamy appeal and still manage to stay in tune with the band that so many have come to enjoy while taking great strides as musicians.

Perhaps I am a bit of a romantic, but being raised on Brat Pack flicks and my Dad’s flawless taste in music spoiled me to the point that I realized halfway through their set that Pains would be an excellent band to see on a first date. Without missing a beat, the band kept in tune with one another throughout the entire set, and it’s safe to say that they have an impeccable live show.

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