There is always some awkwardness with having a local opener. Sometimes the awkwardness is the juxtaposition of a polished established touring band versus something slightly less professional. Or in the case of Tuesday night’s show at the Space, the awkwardness is in the juxtaposition of styles. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart style is well documented, a blend of cutesy twee and shoegaze. Call It Arson, the local opener for the night, is a completely different kettle of fish.
Setting up on stage, Ryan White unpacked his acoustic guitar from a case with CTHC scrawled on the side. The band, formed in 2002, has sound that even predates that. Although Connecticut hardcore roots can be heard in the music, it has a definitive 90s alternative vibe sounding steps away from bands like Days of the New or Fuel. But if Connecticut is good for one thing, it is sticking together. A packed and incredibly drunken Space screamed along to every emotive lyric from the band while neanderthals paced back and forth almost daring a mosh pit to start.
Needless to say by the time Pains of Being Pure at Heart hit the stage, a good portion of the crowd had left presumably to drink more in the bar across the street. Soften-spoken lead singer, Kip Berman approached the microphone with guitar in hand while the crowd still chattered. As he began singing, it was not clear whether this was still soundcheck or if the set had started since no one else was on stage with him. As he did not stop and say “that sounds fine” to the sound guy, slowly people started realizing the set had begun.
Once the rest of the band joined him on the stage, those there just to talk had made their way outside and it was only the Pains of Being Pure at Heart fans that were left in. Although the crowd had shrunken exponentially since Call It Arson, Berman still thanked the crowd for coming out on a Tuesday and expressing his admiration for Manic Productions who booked the show (along with their previous two Connecticut appearances). They played through their set including modern classics like “Heart in Your Heartache” and “Young Adult Friction” with a sense of sincerity and vulnerability. From the bassists painted on skinny jeans and red framed glasses to Elspeth Vance’s side-to-side swaying in time, the band oozed cuteness–a far cry from Call It Arson’s bro-rock.