Published Feb 17, 2009The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's recent Toronto show was a microcosm of the current internet hype-cycle. The Brooklyn four-piece were the toast of the blogosphere and were name-dropped on the ABC Evening News by Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber before they had even released their debut album. That their conversation with Exclaim! last month was their first phone interview ever gives you an idea of just how green the group were when they played to the city's indie rock cognoscenti at a packed Lee's Palace (a last minute reschedule from miniscule venue Neutral).
Given the expectations shouldered by bands in the Pains' position, the group worked well with limited means - a sparse stage set up and barely 45-minutes of recorded music to their name. True to musical forebears like the JAMC, the quartet tread the thin line between ramshackle and precision perfectly, doling out plenty of fuzzed-out guitar hooks over a solid rhythm section as they briskly blew through tracks from their just released debut.
Back-up vocalist and keyboard-player Peggy Wang wore a giant grin for the duration of the show while bopping her head underneath bangs that covered half her face; she looked like an indie rock version of Janice from the Muppet Band. Meanwhile lead singer and guitarist Kip Berman appeared justifiably flustered during his between song banter; when he advised the crowd that the group's record could be purchased at the back, he sounded genuinely surprised they even had a record to sell. No doubt he fell into anaphylactic shock at the end of the night when he discovered just how many in attendance had made the trek to the merch table to purchase it.
The Pains will settle into their newfound notoriety as their tour progresses; that they'll only improve on what's already a pretty good live show bodes well for a future outside the hype machine.