By Joseph Sutton-Holcomb / Special to The Seattle Times
The Vera Project has stood out among Seattle venues for more than a decade now for its idealistic vision of what a music venue’s role should be in a community. Vera brings an admirable level of seriousness to its mission of youth self-expression.
It’s sentimental really, but the kind of sentimentality that is essential. The same could be said of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the band headlining Vera on Saturday, May 3.
The group possesses an emotive sentimentality that some debunk as cheesy, but which is important to the survival of quality rock music. The venue and the group seem well-matched — classy, idealistic music in a classy, idealistic place.
Singer/guitarist Kip Berman and singer/keyboardist Peggy Wang are the two members most responsible for the deep impression Pains can leave on its fans. A classic example of their synergy can be found in the plaintive “Heart in Your Heartbreak.”
Wang’s vocals stay on the periphery, creating an aura around Berman as he sings “She was the heart in your heartbreak, she was the miss in your mistake.”
It’s sentimental, sure, but not to a fault. In the past, the band has tended toward shoegaze rock, albeit with a pop anthem-y quality credited largely to Wang’s keyboard work.
With its newest album, “Days of Abandon,” Pains explores territory more in the vein of earlier rock romantics. Tracks like “Masokissed” and “Art Smock” exemplify this change. They are comparable to The Smiths and The Cure, but the shoegaze influence, still very much present, distinguishes the musicians as contemporary and original.
The production, done by Andy Savours, no doubt contributed to this. He produced shoegaze progenitors My Bloody Valentine’s long-awaited third album. Opening for Pains of Being Pure at Heart is Fear of Men, who hail from Brighton, U.K.
They have a slower, more lushly baroque sound, with crisp lyrics situated high up in the mix. They fall roughly within the same genre boundaries as the headliner, but are slightly mellower. A solid choice for an opener.
Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Fear of Men 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at The Vera Project, 305 Harrison St., Seattle Center; $12 advance (206-956-8372 or www.theveraproject.org).