“All of our songs are about sex or creepy stuff or creepy sex, which makes dedicating them to people sort of hard.” — Kip Berman, prior to dedicating a song to a friend at Sunday’s show
Sunday night Drew and I went to see the Pains of Being Pure at Heart along with Surfer Blood and Hooray for Earth at the Beachland Ballroom. We had seen the Pains twice before (both shows were last summer, one was here at the Beachland Tavern and the other was across the country in Portland, OR, where we were visiting my friend, April), but we had never seen Surfer Blood & Hooray for Earth was new to us in general.
The show was really fantastic, maybe the best I’ve seen so far this year? I wasn’t sure what to expect from Surfer Blood’s live show — April saw them in PDX and said that they were great, but they had also recently retweeted a lot of things from people at shows saying, “Surfer Blood sucks,” so, you know, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Fortunately, they were awesome! I know that I am kind of prone to making weird connections (like that period I went through a couple of months back where I was convinced that every band I listened to sounded like the Human League), so I’m assuming that no one will be surprised when I say that I spent most of Surfer Blood’s show thinking that their lead singer/guitarist, JP, reminded me of Martin Fry from ABC, which I mean in the most awesome way possible. Seriously, I bet Surfer Blood would do an amazing cover of “All of My Heart” or “Poison Arrow”. Anyway, the band played at least 8 songs off of their album Astro Coast (including “Twin Peaks,” “Anchorage,” and “Fast Jabroni”) plus one new song prefaced with the directive, “You better not fucking YouTube this.” But somebody taped it at their Allegheny College show back in March and then put it on YouTube, so you can listen to “I’m Not Ready” here — I’m listening to it now and am getting back into that headspace where I’m thinking about the obvious connection between Surfer Blood and ABC — I really think it’s in the vocals.
Anyway, bottom line, Surfer Blood was fantastic! I seriously almost didn’t want them to stop playing — I probably would have stood there and watched/listened to them play their album again. The whole set made me really wish that I had a time machine and could go back to that night I was visiting friends in Columbus and we were driving around town doing things that we would want to do on our respective dream dates (like: getting bubble tea and fried tofu, playing arcade games, driving around town singing along to Guided By Voices) because Surfer Blood was there that night and I foolishly decided not to go when what I actually should have done was gone with my friends because it was Dream Date Day and that would have been a great end to it.
The Pains came on shortly after Surfer Blood finished playing & tore their way through a ten song set. The majority of their songs were from their debut album on Slumberland, which is awesome, but I always hope to hear some more 7” b-sides or tracks from their EPs. They did play “103” and “Higher Than the Stars,” both non-album tracks, and they came back after their set for an amazing rendition of their eponymous track, “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,” from their first EP. This may have been the highlight of the show for me, actually. The band was joined onstage by members of Hooray for Earth and Surfer Blood and the whole scene was just really goofy and joyous and heartwarming. If I actually knew how to review anything and if last night’s show was a movie, I would totally be calling it the feel good film of the year. It was just really apparent that all three bands had a strong sense of mutual respect for each other, that they all liked each other’s music, and were having a really good time touring together, & that final song just struck me as being really emblematic of all that.
The Pains had a new single with them on tour, out as of today on Slumberland (US) and Fortuna Pop (UK) records. You can stream the a-side, “Say No to Love,” on the Pains’ press page. The single is fantastic and I really suggest buying a copy. (It’s also pressed on beautiful seafoam green vinyl, if that kind of thing makes a difference for you, and each 7” comes with an mp3 download code.) In addition to playing the new single, the band also played a new as-yet unrecorded song called “Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now,” which is one of two new songs they’ve been playing recently (the other is “The Heart in Your Heartbreak,” which wasn’t played at Sunday’s show.) When he introduced the song, Kip made a joke about how it was going to be on their “greatest hits” album “in February” & a Slumberland press release for the Say No to Love 7” mentions that after this tour, the band will be returning to the studio to record their second album, so maybe February is worth noting on your calendar if you’re a fan of the Pains.
Remaining US shows for all three bands are as follows:
8 June — Memphis, TN – Hi Tone Cafe
9 June — Birmingham, AL – Bottletree Cafe
10 June — Tallahassee, FL – The Engine Room
11 June — Orlando, FL – Club at Firestone
12 June — Miami, FL – Grand Central
13 June — Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits
15 June — Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
16 June — Washington, DC – Black Cat
After their US tour concludes, the Pains will be heading overseas where they’re headlining this summer’s Indietracks festival in the UK. Surfer Blood is going global with dates in Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK — all over the place!
Surfer Blood’s LP, Astro Coast, is available on vinyl and CD from InSound.
Hooray for Earth pre-orders and reissues are also available at InSound.
& while I’m in the process of piling up links down here, I really recommend reading this interview with the band on The Alternate Side. It’s a little dated (back from when the Pains played SXSW), but really great.