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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: 8 September 2009

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Thursday, Sep 10, 2009
Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago / Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley

Shoegaze has evolved.  It now includes a lot more fun!  The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have just enough etherea and shimmer as a supplement to their ripe indie pop hooks with a bit of twee pop thrown in for good measure.  It’s truly impossible not to dance when you’re listening to their self titled album or seeing them live. Their blissful offering is heartfelt, as their name suggests, and delivered in a way to ensure that you know sincerity is behind all the catchiness.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are moving up in the world of indie bands.  After selling out Chicago’s Schubas Tavern last Spring, the band secured a gig playing Pitchfork Music Festival, undoubtedly astounding thousands of awed fans. The band is adept in using all five talented band members in a way that creates a sound so full and engaging it’s impossible to ignore it. Between the backup vocals, keyboard, drums, and second guitar and bass, not one instrument is drowned out by another, which makes each component seem essential.

At the same time, it’s really lead singer Kip Berman on guitars and Peggy Wang on backup vocals and keyboard that seem to steal the show every time in terms of stage presence. No matter what song they are playing, Berman and Wang seem like they are having so much fun.

Though The Pains of Being Pure at Heart only have one full length and two EPs of recorded songs available, the band seems immensely comfortable playing each track to perfection.  Their set times also seem to be getting a little longer, this one clocking in at around 45 minutes, which ensures the night is even more satisfying.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights of a set when every song seems so perfect and instantly lovable.  Still, “Stay Alive” was chocked full of wonder.  “Young Adult Friction’s” hooks were delivered flawlessly.  “Come Saturday” provided such a joyful and nearly indescribable rush. “Teenager in Love” fulfilled the audience immensely while the bass and drumming of “Gentle Sons” hammered home the lushness. While it seems perhaps a little strange to describe a young indie pop shoegaze band as “epic,” it’s nonetheless how many of their fans feel about their already promising career. 

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