Last Night: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at Lola's Sixth

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Depreciation Guild, Cymbals Eat Guitars
Lola's Sixth, Fort Worth
September 24, 2009

Better than: coming to the realization that I am not pure at heart--not in the slightest.

With an additional guitarist added for its touring lineup, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart shyly hopped onto the stage at Lola's Sixth last night looking somewhat uncomfortable.

Then frontman Kip Berman reached into his pocket and pulled out a flier for the Info Expo in Arlington, and recited it word for word, announcing the shop's upcoming events calendar. It was like a sales pitch, almost--except for Berman's smirk, which showed that, well, it wasn't. Even if he sounded genuine.

"Long after we're gone, the info shop will still be there for you," he said with another smile.

It was an interesting ploy, if only as an attempt to build a relationship with an audience that, as the Pains would make note of many times over the course of the night, it had never played for before. But, seconds later, as Berman launched into the opening song of his band's set, "This Love Is Fucking Right!," it seemed his attempts at loosening up were for naught.

At the set's start, he simply gazed out, coldly, above the crowd as he stoically performed. Not the most compelling stuff.

Consider it good fortune then that the band's best-known song to date, "Young Adult Friction," was the second on the set list. Slowly but surely over the course of that song's performance, Berman, while trading chorus parts with keyboardist Peggy Wang, visibly loosened up, allowing himself to bounce to the beat and swing his guitar from side to side.

So, too, in essence, did the audience. And away went any doubts that this set might not live up to expectations.

Actually, if anything, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart exceeded expectations at Lola's last night. Remarkably tight for a band that only launched as a lark, the band sounded far more cohesive than even on record, while still managing to maintain the endearing lo-fi aesthetic that surrounds the band's stellar, self-titled debut. Credit the rhythm section in particular: Bassist Alex Naidus and drummer Kurt Feldman set the pace and feel for the band last night, synching up and calmly controlling the band's every move from behind Berman's perch up front like the rudders of a boat.

As the night went on--and perhaps as the band saw how eager this decent-sized crowd was to hear its songs--Berman and crew only loosened and became more cordial, excitedly sharing how they spent their day (in a Target parking lot drinking frozen margaritas) and dedicating a song to Plano (but only after confirming that Plano is, in fact, located in Texas).

And thought the band only performed a short 45-minute set and a single encore song, there was no need to complain. The crowd had heard everything it wanted--songs from the self-titled debut released earlier this year, with a few tracks also from the new EP, Higher Than The Stars, that the band just recently released. The band, too, seemed satisfied with its first trip to the Metroplex.

"We like it here," Berman told the crowd before the encore. "We like your frozen margaritas and your 7-Elevens."

Critics Notebook
Personal Bias:
I'd been looking forward to this shwo for a while. In recent weeks, I've been putting together my preliminary possibilities to make my end-of-year list, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is a definite contender to make the top albums list in my book. Also, I bought a T-shirt.

Quotable: "We just sing songs about growing up in the suburbs," Wang announced to the audience during a break between songs.

By The Way: Opening act The Depreciation Guild features one of Berman's roommates back in New York City.

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