The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
7:15 p.m. 7:55 p.m. at Main Stage Two
If all had happened accordingly, last night's performance from New York's The Pains of Being Pure at Heart would have gone over exceedingly well, with crowds swaying back and forth and Molly Ringwald-ing to the band's equally Jesus and Mary Chain- and John Hughes-influenced vibes.
Alas, this being a Denton festival and all, things didn't go according to plan.
By the time the band was supposed to start its set, at 7:15, a fairly large crowd had gathered before the festival's second main outdoor stage to take in the band's reverb-heavy sound. But, some 40 minutes later, when the band finally started its set after milling about and staring at the stage floor as the festival workers scrambled to set up the sound of the stage, fewer than a third of the band's would-be audience remained.
It was fairly awkward. Disappointing, too. Not the band's performance, necessarily -- their near hour-long offering, turns out, was fine. But, after their showcase was delayed, much of the anticipation for their set had deflated; so, too, any energy in the crowd.
It didn't help matters that, despite all the delays, sound issues persisted through much of the band's performance -- a few squeals here and there, some inappropriate sound mixing that left keyboardist Peggy Wang's efforts mostly unheard, etc. The band's chosen set list wasn't ideal for this scenario either: The crowd, practically rooting the band on, was ready to be bowled over by the endearing sounds of the band's 2009, self-titled, full-length debut. Instead, the band tried winning them over with new material from their upcoming release, Belong, which, while currently available for streaming on the band's web site, wasn't what the crowd came to hear.
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It wasn't until 40 minutes into the band's set -- at which time Mavis Staples' performance down the road had already started -- that the band started pulling out material from their debut release, most notably "This Love Is Fucking Right" and "Young Adult Friction," which remains the best song to ever include the word "microfiche" in its lyrics.
Unfortunately, by that point, despite their best intentions, their efforts were largely in vain -- something of which Wang and frontman Kip Berman appeared quite aware when, with two songs remaining in their set, they asked the audience what time the outdoor beer vendors stopped serving attendees. When audience members responded with shouts of "9 o'clock!," Wang was quick to respond.
"Then let's pay these songs really fast!" she said.
It was a funny moment, but the sentiment was mutual. This wasn't the best way to kick off 35 Conferette -- with stage delays, small crowds and awkward (if well-meaning) offerings. No one could blame anyone for wanting to get the performance over with, so we could all move on to the next distraction.