The Pitchfork effect was on full display at the Beachland Tavern Thursday night as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, one of the latest bands to be lifted from obscurity and labeled Best New Music by the indie world’s unquestioned taste making king, played to a nearly full room in Cleveland. Who knows how many people besides the bands and friends of the bands, would have been in attendance last night had the Pains not received such a glowing review?
Yet, to attribute the New York-based band’s elevated profile on one review alone is to overlook the fact that these British pop revivalists have an uncanny understanding of what made those songs by the likes of Ride, The Sundays, The Shop Assistants so appealing the first time around — innocent harmonies, swirling, trebly guitars, and an unabashed love for a good melody. Plus, they make it so difficult to be one of those jaded I heard this stuff before sorts. They seem so genuine, un-pretentious, and un-New York on stage. Not the type of people you would see on Law & Order Criminal Intent living in a hipster loft, and not tot the type of people you see on the website Look at This f*cking Hipster. Just regular folks playing jangly pop songs like “Come Saturday,” “This is F*cking Right,” and “The Tenure Itch,” appealing to both the starry eyed dancers in the front row, and the 120-Minutes, nostalgics in the back.
Openers, Zaza, (Again, not the Cleveland hair metal band) had a similar affinity for British music, but unlike The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, their swirling dream pop owed more to early Verve, Bends-era Radiohead, and Catherine Wheel. Quite the economic band, Zaza employed just a guitarist with a big deck of gear at his feet, a bassist, and a drummer with a tom, snare, and cymbal. Yet, as pleasant as they sounded on stage, there was something missing from their sound as the crowd was filled with blank stares during the majority of their set. More volume? A blast of guitar to break the monotony? A chorus, or two? Something was missing, and when they find that something, they just may find themselves in a similar position as the Pains.
Cleveland’s Afternoon Naps, were the first band of the three band bill. In the past, they’ve been a band who’s guilty to playing to the level of the crowd. If it’s friends, family, and a stray fan or two, you may be left wondering why they’re considered Cleveland’s premier pop band. However, give them a quickly filling room, like last night at the Beachland, and Tom, Leia and crew will dazzle you with their clean, honest pop hooks, and leave you wondering why they’re not higher up on the bill.