OK, so we walked into The End on Saturday night secretly wishing that we'd cross the threshold and suddenly find ourselves awash in a sea of smart glasses, Talulah Gosh T-shirts, LP bags, Kurt Cobain cardigans, Wolfie pins and skinny kids who collect electric typewriters. In other words, we were hoping the scene would be Twee as Fuck. Spoiler alert: This is still Nashville.
We did walk in behind what we're going to guess is Nashville's only Michael Lerner look-alike, as new-to-us locals Bows and Arrows were, unfortunately, finishing up their last song. We liked what we heard. We also liked that a like-minded local band was on the bill with a touring band. We also liked that there is a like-minded local band to put on said bill. We look forward to hearing more from this very young-looking band.
Then a couple of Transylvanian-looking dudes with raven tresses began setting up their equipment, which included a pedal board the size of three pizzas. This could only mean that Mother Father was getting set to jammify the galactic light show, or something, and meanwhile a couple of very nice kids from Memphis had procured a bunch of free donuts from the Krispy Kreme down the street. We were much obliged. MF held the room captive to such a degree that the night's headliner would offer blowjobs as reward. We're not kidding, though the person who said that might have been.
Next up were Brooklyners Zaza, whose three pieces included Pains of Being Pure at Heart drummer Kurt Feldman on stand-up percussion. They pretty much blew us into a low Earth orbit from which we found it difficult to return. Ethereal but heavy, the band's sound was like shoegaze with an oversexed dub pulse, and it was badass.
Finally, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart may, in fact, be an overhyped band. Just as true, however, is that they're quite good, and whatever over-attention they're currently receiving is no fault of theirs. In fact, in a world where we're constantly being sold the story that such-and-such band has a lot of "swagger" and is therefore good, we were happy to be reporting from Swagger Free Saturday, as TPOBPAH showed us the importance of being earnest. (Notice that's different from the self-importance of being earnest, which we see a little too often.)
Opening their set, the Pains played their most recognizable songs, the excellent "Young Adult Friction" and the self-defining "This Love Is Fucking Right!" back to back. We were a little bummed that keyboardist/singer Peggy Wang was too low in the mix early on--we love her melody on "Young Adult," but the band just kept bopping hard through their set. Feldman was not all Zaza'd-out, luckily, and was more forceful on the drums than he comes across on the recordings. Moreover, the energy was great, which an air of sameyness in some of the songs did not diminish. It might not have been twee as fuck, but it was pretty alright.