Look, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, overly effusive Pains of Being Pure at Heart fanboy , but even I'll be the first to admit that the Brooklyn-based>"/>
Look, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, overly effusive Pains of Being Pure at Heart fanboy, but even I'll be the first to admit that the Brooklyn-based indie popsters are not the most stunningly charismatic live band. Part of that's down to the whole twee thing, perhaps: You don't sing blushing songs about making eyes in the college library without being a bit of an awkward dork IRL. (See above video for further adorable dorkitude.) And as bands go, these guys get by more on shy charm than on witty banter or Dionysian abandon. Or, another way of looking at it: They let the music do most of the talking for them.
And that's fine, because the Pains' songs are ace, from the fuzzy jangles of their first self-titled album to the glossier, crunchier alt-90s productions of new album Belong. They split their set more or less evenly between the two albums, with a couple b-sides thrown in for the anoraks, and the crowd seemed to eat it up--in that some folks were gently swaying and even being so bold as to clap along during key parts--although it also looked as though things might have thinned out a bit since Twin Shadow's opening set.
Onstage, singer/guitarist Kip Berman and keyboardist/backup vocalist Peggy Wang attracted the most attention: Berman kissing the mike to sing his soft-spoken vocals, occasionally rocking out a bit, crouching and leaning into his guitar for the odd lead or solo, Wang mostly shaking her head and hiding behind her long hair, her backup vocals so low in the mix that one wondered if the mike was mainly for show. Wang's keyboard parts were similarly drowned out by the band's guitar sound, bolstered live (as it has been for some time now) by a second touring guitarist. If you suspected the Pains of Being Pure at Heart of being calculating, market-testing fiends, you might even accuse them of keeping Wang on merely for some kind of purely aesthetic/demographic appeal. (Discounting, of course, her very clear contributions to their recordings.) But what kind of a jerk would do that sort of thing?
When the Pains did actually speak, it was usually pretty cute stuff, Berman talking about how the first time they came to Seattle he was really excited to go to the Sit 'n' Spin ("I guess I was a few years too late"), shouting out, with some uncertainty, Hardly Art band Arthur & Yu ("They put out a record we love, we dont know what's going on with them now, but if you have any Arthur & Yu gossip, let us know"), or dedicating their song "Kurt Cobain's Cardigan" (seriously, someone alert EMP) by saying "For Seattle, we're gonna play the Seattle one," before adding, apropos of nothing or maybe an audience heckle, "We've actually opened for Kanye twice now, we're not bragging." After that number, he added, "Don't tell the Vaselines about that one, in case they've got lawyers."
As mentioned, Twin Shadow's set was crazy packed; at one point, a few Fire Department inspectors threaded through the crowd on what was probably just a routine visit, but it still made you anxious about the Croc's capacity. Twin Shadow was as reserved as the headliners; singer/songwriter George Lewis Jr., wearing a blazer and with his hair gathered back in a bun except for a few strands falling into his face, spoke laconically between songs: "Is anyone here from Portland tonight? Thanks for coming back. Sorry about that. Is there still Seattle/Portland rivalry? If so, squash it tonight." And then later: "It's my second time in Seattle. Last time I was an idiot--I went to go see the people catch the fish, nobody caught the fish. I know better now." The band's performances reached a slightly more animated pitch than that, especially the songs "Slow," on which Lewis even seemed to strain a little on the chorus, sounding good, adding a loud flange to his guitar lead, credibly rocking out.
Pains of Being Pure at Heart set list:
2. "I Wanna Go All the Way"
3. "This Love Is Fucking Right"
4. "A Teenager in Love"
5. "The Body"
6. "Heaven's Gonna Happen Now"
7. "Stay Alive"
8. "Heart in Your Heartbreak"
9. "My Terrible Friend"
10. "Come Saturday"
11. "Young Adult Friction"
13. "Kurt Cobain's Cardigan"
14. "Everything With You"
15. "Gentle Sons"