Home > Music > Pains of Being Pure at Heart/Depreciation Guild/Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Black Cat

Pains of Being Pure at Heart/Depreciation Guild/Cymbals Eat Guitars @ Black Cat


As I’ve said before, standing in the crowd during a fully wound rock show was one of the primary goals I had upon returning to the US.  As it turned out, the first chance I would have to do this would be at a Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Cymbals Eat Guitars show at a legendary DC club called The Black Cat.

I had never set foot in the Cat before, and while I know it’s never too late, I’m now kicking myself for waiting so long.  The Black Cat stands in direct competition with the 9:30 Club as Washington’s premiere rock venue, and now I can see why.  It is the quintessential intimate club-style setting.  But there’s a trade-off.  Yes, you do have almost complete access to the stage and the performers, but the sound, unfortunately, is bleedy, and so they seek to remedy the issue by bludgeoning you with volume.  It’s an act of hubris to stand by the speakers and expect non-ringing ears the next day.  Nevertheless, is the Black Cat in league with 9:30?  Sure.  But could you call it an equal?  I’d say not until they pump some more dough into the sound.  But I digress.

Let’s talk about the music.  Cymbals Eat Guitars opened the show with an intense performance that would have scared the shit out of me had I played subsequently.  Simply put, Cymbals is a fully realized unit that serves up swooping tunes with plenty of screeching guitars, angsty vocals, and enough visceral propulsion to please any child of the grunge era, like myself.  They are one of the most exciting rock outfits going today, and I still, for the life of me, don’t understand why they were the opener.

Indeed, the two bands that followed – Depreciation Guild and Pains of Being… – had ominous shoes to fill.  I can’t quite imagine how those two bands swallowed a whole tour knowing they had follow such monstrous talents.  Oh yea, I remember why: because emo-ish fan girls packed the first three rows, clamoring for the pretty-boy 80’s jangle that each band served up, and I have to imagine that was the case everywhere they went.  There’s no doubt that the Cymbals set resonated with them like it did with me.  But I guess that’s their loss.

Depreciation Guild came on and immediately made their cause known.  Completely comprised fresh faced hipsters, Depreciation beat us all over the heads with their love for Oasis and My Bloody Valentine – two bands whose sounds should never be fused.  While it wasn’t an unpleasant performance, I was almost offended that Cymbals had to open for such a meek-sounding band.  Plus, the lead singer was a spitting image of Dawson’s Creek actor Kerr Smith – a decidedly un-rock and roll dude.

Finally the emo-girls all rejoiced as Pains of… took the stage.  My jury is still out in terms of what to think of their lead singer.  On the one hand, he set up his own rig right before the set, something Built to Spill’s Dough Martsch – who is an unassailable rock god – also does.  On the other hand, he opened their set by cooing, “Are you all ready to fall in love tonight?”  Egh!  Somewhere on high the Greek god of good music became disgusted.  Moreover, his demeanor on stage reflected that pre-adolescent opening salvo.  The songs had no edge, but they were clean, poppy, and bright.  The fan-girls were thrilled.  And all the while this guy sung motionless, center stage, devoid of any feeling, which wouldn’t really have been so bad if everyone else in the band weren’t getting down as hard as they were.  I found it to be an awkward sight, but, again, the fan girls… you get the point.  Anyway, my feeling is that Pains of… felt great about their performance, and so I have to feel happy for them.  They are, after all, just another young band trying to make it in the ruthless world of music.

All these bands, whether they find ‘success’ or not, have achieved something remarkable.  They played a national tour to competent fans in competent venues.  That’s a feat that thousands, if not tens of thousands of bands cannot lay claim to.  I understand why all of these bands made it to this level, but I believe that only Cymbals Eat Guitars should rise much higher.  Sorry Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but the only thing I fell in love with that night was the opener.

Cymbals Eat Guitars

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