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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Show Review: Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Depreciation Guild @ the Casbah 9/21/09

Kip Berman / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Kip Berman: Singer, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, also a star.

This was the first time Pains of Being Pure at Heart appeared in San Diego, CA, and I would just like to say, to them, "Thank you for coming!" I see a lot of hot indie bands pass San Diego by, often so that they can play a tuesday night show in Phoenix or Tucson. I've also noticed a fair amount of bands play in San Diego for their first show and then never come back, and I have a sinking suspicion that Pains of Being Pure at Heart may be in that second category, since they are a five piece, and five pieces can be difficult to take on the road even when the money is rolling. So thanks, Pains of Being Pure Heart: I really enjoyed watching you perform.

Here are some facts that are relevant for the purpose of this review:

  1. My wife is a huge Pains of Being Pure at Heart fan.
  2. Through my wife, I became a casual Pains of Being Pure at Heart fan, though my casual fandom was interspersed with comments like "Gee, I can't wait to see Belle and Sebastian on Monday night!"
  3. The show did not sell out, but draw a large-ish avid fan base that lined up after the show to buy a shit-ton of merch from the band.

We walked in to the opening chords of Depreciation Guild (myspace). No offense to Depreciation Guild, who are no slouch in the myspace metrics department (207K profile views, 192k listens), but they are surely opening for Pains of Being Pure at Heart because their singer, is the drummer in the headlining band. Kurt is his name. Also, the guitarist, Christoph, played guitar in Pains of Being Pure at Heart though he is not listed as a full time member of that group. Having overlapping personnel like that is a smart move, in my opinion. More touring bands should figure that out.
I had received positive word-of-mouth about Depreciation Guild but I don't mind saying I wasn't that into it because hey, they're from Brooklyn, so they aren't real people and, 2/3 members are in Pains of Being Pure at Heart, so I'm not knocking a meal out of anyone's mouth. Depreciation Guild is easily pigeonholed by the phrase "sounds like My Bloody Valentine."  
Bearing in mind that I've seen the older band twice in the last 18 months, perhaps this would be a good point to interject an observation about the relationship between older bands and newer bands that draw inspiration from the older band: HAVING THE OLDER BAND AROUND REALLY FUCKS UP YOUR GAME PLAN. Not in all circumstance, sometimes it can be a help. But take this instance, the fact that I was watching Depreciation Guild and vividly recalling seeing My Bloody Valentine last year at the Santa Monica civic center was NOT beneficial for Depreciation Guild. I heard maybe 1.5 hits. The set closer is a hit. They need more hits. The total lack of stage presence is not a problem for a band. The crowd enjoyed it, it appeared Depreciation Guild already has avid fans in the area.
Pains of Being Pure at Heart did not sell out, maybe I blame myself a little bit for that. I just assumed it would. If I thought it wouldn't, I would have pushed out the show some. I have only a couple of observations to make at this band, all of them premised on the fact that prior to the show I was a "casual fan" and that this was their first show in the San Diego market:

Kip Berman, the singer of Pains of Being Pure at Heart is a Ben Gibbard (in terms of "size of star" not in any physical resemblance way) level indie rock star in the making. He held down the audience with little more then his melt-worthy eyes and his voice. This was an audience that had more then it's share of larger sized bros, so I don't think the "lady music" label really sticks with this band. Kip Berman has real star potential.
The band impressed me with their professionalism. Nothing pisses me off more right now when I read criticisms of touring bands that include comments like "their set was too short" or "they didn't interact with the crowd" or "they seemed stuck up." Hey: Local yokel, writing in St. Louis or wherever- they're touring musicians. You came to see them not the other way around, stop acting like a spoiled 12 year old. And to all the other bands I said that about- Ratatat- for one, I apologize to you. Pains of Being Pure at Heart came on the stage on time, reeled off hit after hit after hit, dealt with sound issues with aplomb and had almost no pause between songs. It was the set of band on the rise, projecting their brand 3000 miles away from Brooklyn, in a strange city, Monday night, with no local bands on the bill. I'm impressed by Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I will pay attention to them in the future. Last night is what you call a conversion experience.

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