Bear Hands : Midpoint Music Festival Cincinnati Ohio : September 24

With all the venues and all the bands playing at this year’s Midpoint Music Festival there was really only one band I was really hyped to see –  Brooklyn’s Bears Hands.  With their distinctive percussion and dreamy guitars they create a sound that is truly unique within the indie-pop genre.  Though their album Burning Bush Supper Club  has only been out since the beginning of the year, they are most definitely a band that is going to do big things in the near future.

The venue for the Bear Hand’s Mipoint performance seemed like an odd choice.  The Below Zero Lounge is a glossy nightclub with a high production value.  Certainly not the type of dive I’m used to – maybe I should have ordered an appletini from my slickly dressed bartender instead of my usual bourbon.  The building crowd was the strange mix usually brought out by city-wide festivals, but everyone seemed relaxed and ready to have a good time.  It was still early with the Bear Hands playing a slot at 9pm, practically unbelievable to me that they would have been selected as an opener.  But with all the odd variables in place, when they finally took the stage they brought a kinetic energy to the room that was almost palatable.  Without much banter or introduction, they swept from one song to the next, masterfully recreating the intricate little beats and noises that make their studio album so fucking good.

Being a relatively newer band, I suppose it was inevitable that they would play all the best tracks from the album, but I felt an excitement in my chest every time they went into a personal favorite.  “Crime Pays” seemed to get the entire crowed bouncing, but the masterfully percussed “Tablasaurus” was certainly a highlight of the set, as was the beat-driven “Belongings”.  Ending strong with “What a Drag”, which had every soul is the house moving, the only downside to the entire show was that I wished there could have been more.   As far as I’m concerned, my choice to make Bear Hands the only band I saw at Midpoint was justified.

by Adrienne Panveno


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart with The Craft Spells and Sacred Spirits : Southgate House : August 4

Though I wish I could say that I was approaching this show with complete no expectations but that would just not be true.  Since discovering The Pains of Being Pure at Heart earlier in the year I have fallen head over heels for their dreamy style of indie-pop, and since the beginning of summer their album Belong has been in non-stop rotation.  So to say I was excited to finally see them live was an understatement – I was like a kid on Christmas.

That being said however, it was surprising to find that the show was not in the Parlour upstairs as originally thought, but in the ballroom of the Southgate House, a venue usually reserved for larger national acts.  This both excited and worried me.  I was happy for the band that they had amassed such a following that they needed more space, but concerned as I had seen many bands fail in the ballroom, swallowed whole by such a large room.

Because of our tardiness, Sacred Spirits were finishing up their set just when we arrived.  This is the second time I have missed them due to my own lateness, but am happy to report that from what I did get to hear I will certainly be making an effort to see them in the near future.  At this point, the ballroom was still relatively empty with most people sitting at tables with their drinks, and I hoped that as the night progressed things would get a bit livelier.

The Craft Spells, a pop outfit from Seattle were slated next.  I was excited to see them , but not really sure what to expect.  Their album Idle Labor had lived in my iTunes only having been listened to a couple times.  However, whatever spark I had missed during the band’s bedroom recording session was not lost on me during their live set.  They took the stage with energy and enthusiasm, like they really were just happy to be there.  I took immediately to their 80’s revival sound with it reminiscent of classic post-punk bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division, and The  Psychedelic Furs.  Even though there are quite a few bands at the moment trying to bring the new wave sound back, The Craft Spells offer up songs that are sweet, genuine, and well-crafted.  Tracks like “After the Moment” and “Party Talk” had everyone moving and as I looked around the ballroom, everyone seemed to have been swept up by their infectious synth and guitar pop.  It was quite the performance – they could have easily been the headliners.  I more or less fell in love with The Craft Spells that night.

Then The Pains took the stage.  Not even offering a chance to recover from the jubilation from the Craft Spells’ set, they opened strong with “Belong”, the title track from their new LP.  When the brittle guitar rang through the now much larger crowd it was like a wave a of happy took over the room.  Kip Berman’s airy vocals were slightly more gritty live, and the guitar distortion a bit heavier lending as a nice contrast the The Pains’ usual angelic innocence.  They weaved in and out of some of the best tracks off both albums like “Heart in Your Heartbreak” and “Young Adult Friction” making them sound even brighter and more full of life.  The Pains took the crowd through a story of love and heartache and finding your own band of misfits like the music equivalent of a John Hughes movie à la Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink.  Even after an encore, the show felt like it ended to soon, as if time had stood still while they played.  Overall, the night was study in perfect indie-pop bliss.

by Adrienne Panveno

photos by Brian Daunt

videos by Julian Perry

Songs of Summer Series – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

#2  Belong – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Off the album of the same name, “Belong” is fun and poppy, yet sweet and honest – perfect for setting a Summer romance to or reminding you why road tripping with your best friends is so great.  Being a misfit ain’t so bad when you have someone to be a misfit with.

POBPAH will be in town soon, playing at the Historical Southgate House and is one of our most anticipated shows of the Summer.

by Adrienne Panveno