Pure Bathing Culture stopped at The Echo Sunday night for just the second show of their tour in support of recent release Pray For Rain. It’s a curious title for a band hailing from Portland, but noteworthy as Los Angeles experienced a weekend bookended by storms.
Also unusual was PBC taking the stage around 8pm. The house music hadn’t been turned down but for seconds when they dove directly in to “Dream The Dare.” Front woman Sarah Versprille stood divided, one hand on the microphone, the other perpendicular to her body attending to the electronic ivories of a Roland Gaia.
“The Tower,” lead track off of Pray for Rain, progressed soulfully and even managed a shimmery guitar solo that glanced towards jazz fusion.
When one track commenced with a familiar sounding drum beat, some were momentarily misled into thinking PBC was fixing to drop a Superstition cover(!). Instead, it went in quite another direction, giving way to the title track of the new album. Versprille desperately wondered, “is it pleasure, is it pain, did you pray for rain?”
It is no surprise that half of the current incarnation of Pure Bathing Culture once played as a part of Vetiver, an indie band that executes its own shows with nuanced precision and attention to detail. While many of the PBC tunes played like isolated scenes from a slow jam tapestry, each contained warm guitar tones that evoked the unexpected (but undeniable) sound of The Edge meets Knopfler.
Late in the set came two excellent songs that appear towards the end of Pray For Rain. The deliberate and pensive “In The Night, In The Peaceful Night” preceded the playful, summer single-ready “She Shakes”.
Versprille returned to the stage for the encore and, in response to shouted requests, proclaimed “no one wants to hear the one we’re gonna play.” Knowing what was to follow, perhaps she was concerned that “Only Lonely Lovers” ran the risk of sending their fans out on to Sunset Boulevard broken hearted. It was a heartfelt performance of a beautiful song, but it is hard to bestow upon anyone the lyrics, “my heart beats black, only lonely lovers know what the hopeless adore.”
Thankfully, the gut wrencher wasn’t the coda. It faded without notice in to the final song, “Ivory Coast.” One of four songs from their 2012 self-titled debut EP, the song reassured the weary with the more hopeful lyrics, “I know you will love me till my eyes close.”
Prior to Pure Bathing Culture, Scott Reitherman’s Seattle-based project Pillar Point played an impressive set. Placing their sound under the “synth pop” banner wouldn’t be entirely incorrect, but it would do them a disservice. Their performance had a fresh attitude and aggressiveness that should be welcomed in the genre.
Pure Bathing Culture Setlist
- Dream The Dare
- The Tower
- I Trace Your Symbol
- Pray for Rain
- In The Night, In The Peaceful Night
- She Shakes
- Palest Pearl
- Only Lonely Lovers
- Ivory Coast