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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Rough Trade NYC (Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY) – Friday, March 28, 2014

Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Kip Berman @ Rough Trade NYC
5 August 2014

This was the second show I’d seen at Williamsburg’s spacious, speckless new record store/music venue (the first was a free Allah-Las gig the previous night), following its nearly four-month concert hiatus due to neighborhood noise issues. But it sure was strange to see NYC’s poppy Pains for this fifth occasion, as frontman Kip Berman was backed by a completely different lineup than the familiar one that played the other four! (In that respect, it recalled The Shins show I saw at Montclair, NJ’s Wellmont Theatre in October 2009, the first of seven times with singer James Mercer’s then-brand new band.)

Christoph Hochheim, Jacob Sloan, Kip Berman, Drew Citron

Anton Hochheim

Six of the set’s 13 songs came from the group’s splendid new third LP Days of Abandon – which hadn’t yet come out prior to the show – including the quiet solo acoustic opener “Art Smock,” the dynamic “Eurydice,” and the snappy pre-release single “Simple & Sure.” As well, angelic-voiced guest singer Jen Goma (from Philadelphia’s A Sunny Day in Glasgow) impressed on the two terrific, bouncy Days tunes on which she sang lead, “Kelly” and “Life After Life.” Despite the new album’s lighter tone, the jittery, jumpy Berman was as hyperkinetic as ever, ardently attacking the mic like a rattlesnake springing at a family of field mice.

Jen Goma

As for the older material, the revamped quintet may not have been as duck’s behind tight as the longer-running, well-oiled former foursome. Still, they sounded sharp and practiced on spunky, hard-hitting first LP singles like “Young Adult Friction,” the main set closing “This Love is Fucking Right!,” and especially the encore of “Everything with You” and its B-side “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,” all of which sizzled. Then again, as this was only a warm-up to their upcoming US tour supporting Days, here’s betting they were plenty more honed by the tour’s concluding show in May at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom.