Thursday, June 9th show was set in Trinity, an old church with a capacity of 800 where once people came to worship at the alter, but tonight indie and shoegaze fans alike came to see New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They came to see if they were ‘the way to the truth and the light.’
The venue still retains much of it’s old character inside and out and that night it added to a wonderful atmosphere, even though the venue was far from full, which was a crying shame judging by the night’s performances.
First band of the night were local Bristolians, The Fauns, who boast three guitarists (Elliot, Lee and Kevin), all whom know how to create a swirling wall of fuzz guitars, which Texans This Will Destroy You would have been proud of. They are joined by Michael on bass and Tom on drums.
However, it is lead singer Alison Garner who captured the audience tonight, even though she almost looked vulnerable on stage, regularly turning to the side choosing to face members of her band, rather than the audience. This only seemed to complement and fit perfectly with the delicate beautiful vocals that at times brought back memories of Liz Fraser or the haunting vocals of Sigur Ros (QRO live review).
The reality is The Fauns were really professional and tight, giving a faultless display from a band that has been around since the summer of 2007. Since those days of sun and sangrias they have supported British record label Creation’s darlings The Telescopes in Scandinavia and Europe as well as other 80/90’s bands The Durutti Column, Galaxie 500 and The Pastels.
Tonight many of the tracks from their excellent self-titled début album were aired alongside some other finely crafted gems, which should be hunted down once this review has been read. Throughout, all tracks were earmarked with Alison’s soft vocals, especially evident within “Fragile” and alongside the warm fuzz of guitars in stand out tracks – “The Sun Is Cruising” and “The Road Meets the Sky”.
The Fauns are in the process of getting to work on their second album and plans for further shows, including a possible tour of the U.S. Meaning there has been no better time to discover this band whose abrasive guitars and ethereal vocals which will be appreciated by all those who ever cared for My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive a like.
Next up were Fanzine from London, who put in a balshy, confident performance having already supported the headlining band on several dates and previously Yuck. Fronted by ‘Jock’ decked out in a woolly hat and whose vocal style was reminiscent of Sugar and Hüsker Dü (QRO spotlight on) frontman Bob Mould (QRO live review). Throughout the set Jock shared vocal duties with Ed and his impressive crimson red Fender Jaguar guitar. The quartet from the capital put in a no-nonsense performance, further made up by ‘Kit’ on bass and Billy on drums and received a steady appreciation from the audience who watched on.
The influences are clear and those who appreciate Weezer (QRO live review) and Pavement (QRO live review) will certainly find Fanzine worth a listen, and what with new single due for release in September and October, the future for this lo-fi garage band looks set for wider distribution and interest.
Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (POBPAH), a band who received rave reviews for their 2009 self-titled début album (QRO review) now have a second album in Belong (QRO review) to share with those either side of the pond and beyond.
Things got off to a very slow start indeed. The New Yorkers took to the stage, only to discover some technical problems that left an uncomfortable lengthy silence within the venue for many minutes. The band stood looking at a box of tricks by drummer Kurt Feldham, which appeared to be spoiling the evening and the audience stood looking at the backs of the band.
Finally front man Kip Berman broke the ice with several clever quips including, “We are a conceptual band,” and after further silence… “We are not actually going to play!” They were that conceptual!
When everything was set and POBPAH were finally able to do their thing, they took a couple of songs to relax, before finally the evening really started to get going with “A Teenager In Love” from their début album.
Berman then warmed himself further to Bristol by giving a nice mention of bands that had hailed from Bristol in the ‘80s and in turn were major influences on them. Like the Subway record labels Flatmates and The Rose Hips. Berman suggested that the audience go away and listen to them, then you will realise, “That we are not that original,” he further went on to explain.
There continued to be longer than usual breaks in-between songs, but once the five-piece were delivering, there was no doubting the bands superb ability to deliver feel good catchy indie guitar pop. “Heart In Your Heartbreak” brought dancing and the audience started to take off.
Keyboard player Peggy Wang spent much of the evening smiling and giggling throughout. Picking out a regular and prominent punter of the Bristol gig scene, “Thanks to big Geoff. We wish we could take you to every gig!” Those who know Geoff groaned as this only caused ‘big Geoff’ to only jump around even more with his 6’5″ frame and big mob of blond hair to boot.
“Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now” and “My Terrible Friend” from Belong were just ridiculously uplifting happy songs, a relief from much of the tuneless and gloomy dirge that plagues the world of independent artists. POBPAH just appeared to continue to raise the bar, crafting wonderfully well crafted pop songs that transfer and replicate themselves with ease onto the stage.
“Come Saturday” galloped along at knots, with bassist Alex Naidus the only person in the room managing to prevent himself dancing around, as the front of the venue became a full-blown disco. After which Berman said, “Thanks for dancing,” to the audience who were having a great time. This included a threesome of males, beer in hand who were dancing around Morrissey style by the merchandise stall, to a bemused stall holder who tried to ignore them by keeping his eyes focused on his mobile phone as he texted his mum… possibly?
Christoph Hocheim, with his sculpted cheekbones and floppy black fringe delivered a jangly pop delight, and hidden below the depths of his drums Feldham continued to beat out a joyous dream pop rhythm, with Wang’s harmony laden vocals, ensured that tracks from the Belong album were equally well received, by a well and truly converted audience in this building or worship.
The frontman gave a nod to another band he this time considered to be the ‘best ever band’. He apologised, confessing this band were not from Bristol. This time Kip shared with us this band was from Portland and these imposers came under the name of the ‘Exploding Hearts’.
Berman gave further recognition to the venue by sharing with the audience, “Last time we were in Bristol we played on a boat, The Thekla. This time a church! What next?” Judging by the performance tonight and the fun served up by POBPAH, if Heaven isn’t available, Bristol’s larger venues must surely beckon.
Berman returned for the encore on his own for the first song, before being joined by the rest of the band for last year’s single “Say No To Love”, which had everyone dancing in this old Bristol church. Hopefully from this moment we can expect the rise from the dead of The Flatmates and bring Pains of Being Pure at Heart back to Bristol again soon.
Pains of Being Pure at Heart are a must for anyone who has had a bad day and needs a quick pick me up. Forget the bottle and get yourself along to one of their shows. They are to indie music, what The Pogues are to modern Irish folk. Great fun and capable of producing fantastic songs to lift any mood.