by Matt Kelchner
With a revamped band and new album in hand, Kip Berman and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart stopped by Fishtown Monday night for a headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s. The new record, Days of Abandon, shows a breath of fresh air for the seasoned band. Along with a new album, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart also featured a new live lineup, one that played like they had been together for years. The energy and confidence displayed Monday night that although Days of Abandon may be their third album, there’s still a lot left in the tank.
The Pains of Being of Being Pure at Heart were accompanied by two additional bands, their fellow touring mates Ablebody and Fear of Men. Both bands seem to fit in quite well stylistically with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but at the same time they added their own sounds. Members of both bands lent their hands later in the night as they made up the rest of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (besides Berman of course).
First up for the night was Ablebody. Brothers Christoph and Anton Hochheim team up with Jacob Sloan to form the three piece band from Los Angeles. With his sibling Anton and Jacob holding down the rhythm section with chugging bass lines and steady drum beats, it allowed for Christoph’s guitar work to shine. Ablebody were also celebrating a new record of their own Monday night. Their latest 7” single “After Hours” would be officially released the following day. Ablebody wrapped up their set with “Phantasy”, a take from their 2013 EP All My Everything.
Following Ablebody’s set, Brighton, UK’s Fear of Men began to take the stage for what would be their debut performance in Philadelphia. Guitarist and lead singer Jess Weiss comes off as a bit shy and soft spoken in passing, but on stage she is anything but. She and the other members of the band gave quite the first impression Monday night. Blazing through song after song, Weiss displayed her knack of clever songwriting as well as her raw and powerful energy.
While their set primarily consisted of tracks off their most recent album, Fear of Men played a few older songs such as “Doldrums” and “Mosaic”. Song after song, their set seemed to increasingly grow in intensity and was capped off with a roaring rendition of “Inside”.
As the members of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart began to take the stage, many familiar faces appeared. By the time they were finished setting and up and began to play, all three members of Ablebody along with Jess Weiss from Fear of Men were on stage. Additionally, Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow also joined in on the fun. All in all, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart rounded out to six members in total, the largest grouping I’ve seen of them. It was Goma and leader/mastermind Kip Berman alone on stage together singing “Art Smock” to kick things off.
The lush, forever youthful sounds that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are known for translated almost perfectly with the group’s new live lineup. Each member seemed to fit right into their own groove. The level of energy and overall joy from playing with one another lit up the stage and kept the crowd bopping and dancing around all night. Berman displayed a new sense of confidence as he controlled the frenzy from start to finish.
Much of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s song selection reflected that of their new album. Tracks like “Simple and Sure”, “Until the Sun Explodes” and “Eurydice” were well received and despite being so new, were already met with the crowd singing along. Berman, Goma and Weiss traded off lead and backup vocal parts that gave new depth and volume to each of the songs. Musically, every tune sounded tighter than ever and each was played with more of a pop behind it.
Older favorites were thrown in quite frequently throughout the night. When songs like “Heart in the Heartbreak” and “Come Saturday” were played, the room seemingly exploded. In fact, for the first song in the encore Berman came on stage alone to sing a solo rendition of one of the band’s oldest songs “Ramona”. The night ended as the rest of the band came back on stage to perform another older hit, “Everything with You”.
Monday night marked a special night for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Kip, a native of the suburbs of Philadelphia, announced partially through the set that the night was highlighted with his mother being in attendance. She, along with a room packed full of fans, took notice to a new era of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart being ushered in. After a night like this, one can only imagine what’s next for Kip Berman and company.