Concert Review

Hooray For Earth, Surfer Blood and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart rock the Cat’s Cradle

by Tommyboy and Spaceman Spiff

Atmosphere is not the only thing that matters for a show, but few will argue against it’s utmost importance.  The atmosphere at the Cat’s Cradle on the 15th was, forgive the term, awesome.  Laid back and congenial, the three bands on the bill obviously got along like good friends.  The Cradle was one of the last stops on their long tour together and the amicable vibe that evening was reinforced when each band mentioned the stop to be of personal significance.

The first to play was NYC-based Hooray For Earth (who had earlier in the day paid a visit to the WKNC studio for a live interview with our very own DJ Ones).  Several of their instruments appeared to be held together with duct tape, an eccentric detail that complimented the marvelously ramshackle nature of their music.  Their songs were slightly off-kilter and poppy and their set was high in energy.  Especially intense was the presence of two on-stage percussionists.

Following in rather quick succession, as opposed to the customary half-hour wait between bands, the much-lauded West Palm Beach, Florida, natives Surfer Blood took the stage.  The performance was prefaced with lead singer JP Pitts voicing the notion that “we’re all the same; you guys are just like us, and we are just like you.”  After plucking the opening notes of “Take It Easy,” Pitts slyly asked the audience, “Do you want the guitar on or off?”  His question was met with a few seconds of stunned silence.  Surely the musicians behind one of the best guitar albums of recent memory, Astro Coast, would want to thrill us with their riffs?  The response for “on” was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and for the rest of their set Pitts ran around the stage taking power stances, holding his ax like a gun.  The energy of the evening built to the soaring one-two punch of “Swim” (for which all willing guests were invited onto the stage) and “Anchorage.”  With calm confidence, the band masterfully captured the rich and spacious sound of their album.

Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart took the stage after a short break to play a solo rendition of “Contender” before his full band took their places behind him.  With his band poised to start, Berman shyly asked the crowd, “Are you ready to rock?”  The band proceeded to breeze through pop gem after glorious pop gem only to peak with the catchy fuzz of “Young Adult Friction” and their new single “Say No To Love.”  If Surfer Blood is a guitar band, then the Pains are certainly a drums band.  Kurt Feldman, who also fronts the equally fuzzed-out band The Depreciation Guild, plays enchanting beats to which many people in the audience were enthusiastically air drumming.  JP Pitts of Surfer Blood and Gary Benacquista of Hooray For Earth gleefully appeared at the right moments to dance onstage and add frantic shakes of their tambourines.

As if the aggregate experience of these acts was not enough, members of all three bands took the stage for the encore, abiding by the crowd’s fervent request for their rendition of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” (see below for a video of a similarly energetic performance of the song in Orlando).  With everyone in the room grooving along to the song, it wasn’t clear who was enjoying themselves more: the musicians or the audience.  Quite simply, everyone was experiencing the joys of celebrating music together.

(Video source: Pitchfork)