Concert Review – Pains of Being Pure at Heart Concert, Lee’s Palace, April 28

Toronto – Is there something in the water in Brooklyn or something? It seems like every hot new act is being cranked out across the bridge faster than a Chinese Factory can spit out fake Gucci wallets. Soon everyone breezing through Lee’s Palace will hail from Brownstone Town…heck maybe that day is already here if last night is any indication of the future. It was a Brooklyn double-bill with openers Zaza and hyped up cuties the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

I caught the last half of Zaza’s opening set having liked what I heard off their MySpace page. Everything off their Cameo EP is sexy, mysterious, and as one reviewer described,  like “opium smoke” with the standout track being Arms Length both live and recorded. They may resent this tag (and who can blame them–feel free to blame Canada I guess) but I am tagging them as breathy “gothgaze”. If you need a point of reference think Bark Psychosis-like vocals and layered, lusher-sounding Tones on Tail-like instrumentals.

Listening to their recorded material I wasn’t struck by how strong the drums are in their music—live it seemed to be the only thing I could focus on. Firstly because their drummer (Kurt, who doubles as the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s drummer) prefers to stand while performing with Zaza, and secondly because he is awesome. In a world where band hierarchy dictates the drummer is almost always the last one to be noticed and first to revolve through the door it was nice to hear a band that let their percussionist do a lot of the driving.  I chatted up bassist and all around babe Jennifer Fraser after their set and she confirmed he is a hot commodity. I can certainly see why. I hope these guys come back to something other than polite, tepid clapping next time.

As for main attraction Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I can confirm that they are adorable. So adorable that I would love to put them in my pocket and take them home, lining them up on my display shelves next to my miniatures collection. How you felt about their set will depend on how you feel about their honey-drenched self-titled debut that some have dismissed as being so derivative it’s boring. This reviewer says, not so. I would also disagree with their being lumped in with the “shoegaze” tag–this is simply infectiously happy power pop. How infectious you might ask? Swine flu in hyperglobalmegadrive. So infectious I was willing to overlook the unquestionably wavering vocals that were off-key at times. Like a diligent teacher I have faith that by the end of this exhaustive tour they will have shaped up in this department and I give them an A in terms of everything else.

It certainly helps that they have a tremendous amount of affable college charm to begin with. Vocalist Kip Berman (who now pronounces Toronto “Toronno” courtesy of the Panic Manual) revealed keyboardist Peggy’s affection for Degrassi Jr. High. In short, Peggy is my new BFF for the excitement she showed at being able to pass by the House of Lancaster at Lansdowne / Bloor where Joey, Wheels, and Snake were kicked out for running out of cash for soft drinks AND for willingly reciting the lyrics to “Everybody Wants Something” to the audience.

Setlist (I’m sure this is inaccurate): Contender, Come Saturday, Young Adult Friction, This Love is Fucking Right!, Everything With You…???

I don’t think they did Teenager in Love which is my favourite track off the album because it is what David Bowie’s “Modern Love” would be if it took a truckload of Zoloft in 2009. But no matter, they’re cute enough to get away with murder.

I told ya they were cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute.

Here is a video of their show in Williamsburg

Watch the full concert at

Posted on by Allison in Concerts

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5 Responses to Concert Review – Pains of Being Pure at Heart Concert, Lee’s Palace, April 28

  1. Allison
  2. Josh

    Note Tones on Tail reference. Nice

  3. Allison

    I’m starting to rethink that…they’re really more Love and Rockets – Haunted when the Minutes Drag. I miss that song.

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  5. Pingback: Interview: Zaza, May 8 2010, European Tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Estragon, Bologna, Italy | The Panic Manual

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