Friday, June 10, 2011

the electric ballroom in camden town

Another venue review.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 8 June 2011.

The Electric Ballroom is located in north London in Camden Town. Camden seems to be where the punks, goths, new wave, and hipsters congregate. Definitely an interesting neighborhood.

The Electric Ballroom is one of the biggest indoor music venues I've ever been to, not counting stadiums like the Frank Erwin Center in Austin or the AT&T Center in San Antonio. I think there was even more floor space than inside the Tabernacle in Atlanta. The Electric Ballroom had security cams as you entered and exited the building and a security guard checking bags. It had a bar at the back of the floor and a huge bar area off to the side. What it didn't have was a whole lot of character inside.

Lining the walls of the foyer were framed concert posters of acts that have previously been through. But unlike say the Tabernacle with its stained glass windows and organ pipes or the graffiti and amateur pop art in Emo's, the Electric Ballroom was pretty bland inside. The walls that surrounded the stage were dark and unadorned. But it did have a nice big floor and, unlike in America, people didn't seem keen on tossing their empty cups and cans on the ground so the concrete remained uncluttered and unsticky throughout the evening.

The Electric Ballroom has a really nice stage. It's huge and elevated. The security barriers are here in London, blocking off the area against the stage so that photographers / bloggers can snap pictures. James Murphy of the now defunct LCD Soundsystem used to say how much he hated those spaces. I'm glad the practice hasn't infiltrated Austin yet, at least not widely. I like to stand as close to the stage as possible.

I didn't catch the name of the first band of the night. They were a simple guitar and drum duo. Kind of interesting. They got a lot of sound out of just the two of them and a couple of tunes were pretty catchy. Fanzine, I didn't like so much. They were just too meh. Two guitarists who both sang, a bass player, and a drummer. They did a great job utilizing the two guitars but the paired vocals just didn't do enough to be interesting. They weren't bad and maybe would sound a lot more catchy on an album.

I went out to see the Pains of Being Pure at Heart again. I caught them earlier this year at the EARL in Atlanta touring behind their new LP 'Belong'. From what I can remember of the 5 April show, they changed up the setlist.

I dunno what it is, but there wasn't a lot of banter from the Pains or from any of the bands for that matter. Is this a UK thing? Kip said a few things, mostly praising Fanzine, whom their on tour with in the UK, or mentioning an appearance earlier in the day on BBC6's Lauren Laverne show. He broke a guitar string during Teenager in Love, which he called their "wussiest song" and talked a little while he re-strung it.

Kip also joked when I fan complained they never play 'Hey Paul' live by saying all their songs sound pretty much like 'Hey Paul.' And apparently somebody named John Marshall was in the crowd because Kip kept asking if that was him shouting things from the crowd. And they received a request to play 'Side Ponytail,' a B side off the 'Come Saturday' single.

Peggy remained silent for most of the show, which was pretty disappointing. Usually she has a few silly bits to chip in. But, as always, she was absolutely adorable.

The encore started with Kip coming back on stage to play 'Contender' solo before being joined by the rest of the band for one last song.

Here's the thing about London. Because the Tube is most people's source of transportation and it shut downs around midnight every night, the show started early (tickets said 7:30, more like 7:50) and there was a hard curfew of 10:30. When the show ended, security pretty much started herding people out the door. They wouldn't even let me stand around for a few moments to send a text.

All in all, cool venue, mostly for the capacity, the stage, and the sound.

Rating: recommended

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