Filed under: Scene Around Town | Tags: Bug Jar, concert, concert coverage, Kip Berman, live, Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Peggy Wang, POBPAH, Rochester, show
I found out yesterday afternoon that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were playing at the Bug Jar in Rochester. At first, I was unsure of how I could get to the show since I don’t have a car, but once the thought of missing it crossed my mind, I realized there was no way i could stay in Syracuse while this show was happening in a neighboring city. I figured out a way to get to there and left a few a hours after I found out it was even happening. I was able to sit down and talk with them before their set (they were awesome – the interview will be be posted on 20Watts in the future!) and stay to see the entire show, which was definitely worth the trip but not as amazing as I expected.
Their self-titled debut album, released on February 2, 2009 on Slumberland Records, was the main chunk of their set, although they performed one song that will be released as a single on a 7 inch this summer. This album has been playing in my head since I downloaded it, so I was really excited to finally see them perform it live since I had already missed them once in NYC. From the very first note of the show, the POBPAH’s signature sound, straight up pop that is obviously influenced by the great indie bands of the early 90’s, blared from the speakers. I had never been to the Bug Jar before, and while the environment is creatively enjoyable and the setup of the venue itself makes it a great place to see a concert, the sound wasn’t that incredible. The band brought their own sound guy, which you would think would improve the quality of the show, but there was definitely much left to be desired.
Kip Berman’s voice lives up to the quality of the recording, although Peggy Wang’s is a little lacking. On the CD, their harmonies compliment each other like peanut butter and jelly, but in a live setting this is not the case. Berman, the lead singer and guitar player, carries the entire band with his rock star presence and connection with the audience. I really could not feel anything for the second guitarist or even Wang, the keyboardist. The bassist seemed to be able to communicate with the audience a bit better than other members, but still lacked in this department.
One thing that impressed me about last night was the crowd. In many indie-rock settings, the crowd will stand and watch the band with their arms crossed, not even moving to the music; the crowd was definitely grooving to the tunes of the POBPAH. Not only was everyone slightly dancing in their spots, but there were a few die-hard fans up in the front row dancing like they had never heard good rock music before. “Come Saturday,” a single from the album, was the crowd favorite, and my personal favorite throughout the entire performance.
This band has only been together for two years, starting with three members and growing to the five that currently take the stage. I’d give them time to get their live act tighter, and I have no doubt that they will be impressing the masses in the future. Their music is truly accessible to anyone who enjoys a good, happy, dance-rock tune and even though the performance wasn’t everything I expected, I will definitely be seeing them again this summer.