concert review: Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Depreciation Guild @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario) - February 12, 2009
As a fan of shoegaze and indiepop in particular back in the 90's, I regret not having seen some of the best shoegaze acts that came to town, and indiepop was such an underground movement that I don't even recall some of the best acts(mostly American and British) ever coming to Toronto. Since then my interest in those genres waned although only perhaps my musical tastes gravitated elsewhere. However like a blast from the past, Lee's Palace brought those genres back to the forefront with a bill featuring NYC's Pains of Being Pure At Heart as well as The Depreciation Guild. I missed first openers Don Mills though perhaps it was for the best at least based on the opinion of one person I spoke to.
The second opening act of the night were 3 piece NYC shoegaze outfit The Depreciation Guild. Reminding me at various times of My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Cocteau Twins I'd think they'd be a shoegaze fan's wet dream. Pains' Kurt Feldman steps out from being the drums to take frontman role for The Depreciation Guild to handle vocals, guitar and their Famicon 8-bit programmed beats. The band's remaining members are Christoph on guitar and vocals and Anton on drums. They performed their set energetically while a friend of theirs worked a video projector offstage which displayed various colourful geometric shapes and pixelated imagery white backdrop behind the drummer, as well as blanketting the drummer. The visuals did add an attractive element to the show and complimented the swirling guitars and hypnotic beats nicely. Initially I was a bit turned off by the band's too-obvious debt(especially with some of their noisier guitar songs) to My Bloody Valentine though through the course of their set they did display more diversity and were able to tone down the guitar histronics and show more dynamics in their sound. If this sounds like something up your alley, you can download their album "In Her Gentle Jaws" for free at their website.
I was surprised as Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's Kip Berman at the turnout for their show at Lee's Palace last Thursday. Berman addressed the crowd saying that it was the largest crowd they'd ever played for and it really just swelled me up with pride that Toronto music fans came out. Frankly when the show had originally been scheduled for the much smaller venue Neutral (a venue I have not yet been to but can imagine is small) I had imagined perhaps they wouldn't even fill that venue. But packing Lee's last Thursday night - bravo. NYC's Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, made up of Alex on bass, Kip on guitar/vox, Kurt on drums and Peggy on keys/vox are a band that wear their heart on their sleeve; it's no surprise that indiepop label Slumberland Records picked them up as they are reminiscient of some of that label's best acts like Velocity Girl, Rocketship and Black Tambourine with their infectious melodies, sweet boy/girl vocals and swirling instrumentation. The Pains had more of a punch live than on record which does bode well for the band as a live act but also did perhaps translate the diversity of the record less effectively, in particular some of the prettier guitar sounds and especially Peggy's vocals. For example, a favourite of mine from the record 'Young Adult Friction' had a rougher translation live with the instrumentation and vocals feeling harsher, losing a bit of the sweetness(especially Peggy's vocal parts) of the recorded version. Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are a band that as I said wears their influences on their sleeve and that's seem to have divided fans on them - I'm sure a lot of you love them. I do like them a lot but that which makes me from loving them outright is that I don't think they add any more to the genre of indiepop(or whatever you want to call them) that hasn't been done before. Hey, if they existed 15 years ago, who knows. I've come to realize that indiepop was a phase I went through and shall likely never enjoy with the same exhiliration again but Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are a welcome reminder of something I once loved.
Photos: Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Depreciation Guild @ Lee's Palace (Feb 12, 2009)
MySpace: Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
MySpace: The Depreciation Guild