SXSW, Part 2: Collegiate Indie Pop Fun @ Emo's with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The word on the street was to go see The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. After devouring my hi-carb lunch with Carol Bui, I rolled myself across 6th Street to join the Pitchfork/Windish Party at Emos, one of Austin’s own large-sized venues to see the Brooklyn-based indie pop group. Two bars, one indoor and one outdoor, both serving the cliques of the mid-day almost-trashed Pitchfork/Windish partiers hovering around the Emo’s mains stage and Emo’s Jr. I sent Peggy Wang, the keyboardist of The Pains, a text message asking for her whereabouts. Waiting for her response, I ran into Danny Shea who attended the SXSW as a Star Hill/Red Light Management representative from Charlottesville. I lost track of time as we chatted away. By the time I got Peggy’s text, her band was already set up and about to begin their set.

the court yard between Emo's main stage and Emo's Jr - Pitchfork/Windish crowd

Waiting, a big part of field research

The Pains is fronted by Kip Berman, one of the most pleasant fellows around on and off stage, and even over the Myspace. With an amicable presence, Kip showered the Emo’s main performance space with a stream of collegiate cordiality. He wore a gray polyester hooded jacket, zipped all the way up, while pouring out sweat on his face. One worried if he would get overheated. Kip’s almost-abashed, anti-rock-star demeanor resonates with baby Bob Dylan’s earnestness, however self-consciously constructed, circa 1961. Smiling (and hiding) behind a curtain of bangs, Peggy played chords while singing backup vocals. The band bopped their heads while singing in unison during chorus sections, playing one after another infectious, no-more-than-3-minute-long tunes. Their peppy energy inspired the crowd to swing their hips mildly and move in autonomously formed mini-waves.

Kip Berman + Peggy Wang

After their set, I ran over to catch Peggy before she loaded away her equipment. I congratulated her on the good turnout at SXSW. I gave her my home-brewed business card. She suggested the idea of an email/chat interview. Then she vanished.

I later on found out that members of the Taiwanese band Sloth Scamper were also present at this show. They are big fans of The Pains, in fact. Sadly I missed Sloth Scamper’s only set at SXSW on the first day. Incidentally, I met J-A Lin of Sloth Scampr last summer at a show where my duo Grapefruit Experiment double-billed with Lin’s noise group in Taipei. Small world!

Where are you, Sloth Scamper?


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