Concert Review: Pains of Being Pure at Heart/Surfer Blood at Beachland Ballroom

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Why does she always get to wear the awesome hat?
  • "Why does she always get to wear the awesome hat?"

For shoegazers, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart sure looked up an awful lot during their set at the Beachland Ballroom last night.

At the Tavern last year, the indie-poppers brought the fuzz chords and youthful exuberance but failed to legitimize their startlingly great self-titled debut album. Back then, their brief set would surely have shamed an oft-cited influence: My Bloody Valentine.

Last night, their hearty performance could’ve defrosted the Field Mice’s Snowball. Yes, it’s easy to place them among their melancholic musical brethren, but these kids have bright futures ahead of them. They've released a slew of solid material since their debut: a single, an EP and, most recently, the "Say No to Love" 7-inch.

Singer and guitarist Kip Berman admitted the songs are about creepy stuff or sex (he reinforced that “Come Saturday” is about “doing it”). Before finishing their set, they praised Cleveland and invited members of Surfer Blood and Hooray for Earth onstage for their self-titled song.

Openers/co-headliners Surfer Blood have played more than 70 shows this year. But frontman JP Pitts was in top form in a Washington D.C. T-shirt and red beret, strutting and dancing. When an audience member suggested a Wes Anderson connection, Pitts declared, “This song’s by Rushmore,” before diving into “Swim.”

Surfer Blood are the latest great indie-rock band to pilfer from Brian Eno. “Swim” rides the same wavelengths as “Needle in the Camel’s Eye,” and winds up sounding like the Shins covering Poison.

While some shows have included a cover of Guided by Voices’ “Game of Pricks,” last night's concert included a tighter set, proving that they may have more chops and poise than even their magnificent debut, Astro Coast, suggests.

Surfer Blood were light on the reverb in the right places, and in only a few short months, their act and the bassist’s mustache have grown fuller than ever. —Michael Tkach

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