It always seems like whenever my particular existence is riddled with strife, booze, stress, drama, boys, and no clean underwear, I can count on Pinback to tour in my area and pick up the pieces. I don't think they'll do my laundry though.
They're one of those bands that excel at calming my nerves, and thus I arrived early Sunday night to see the San Diego lot. I walked into the Fillmore and was stunned to find a Danny Devito-esque guy with a high-pitched voice adorned in a hoodie up top stage. Solo. Spitting rhymes, no backing band and armed with a prerecorded track of music. This was the opening act? After I recovered from shock, I realized Pinback had taken MC Chris on the road with them, a satirical, sarcastic, and unbelievably talented rapper who I actually was acquainted with years ago and never thought I would get to see. Much to my pleasure, he launched into "White Kids Love Hip Hop," which I believe pretty much explains itself:
"A couple a words about my 'nilla wiggas. Packin' peters that are measured in millimeters. We don't talk in the theaters like we're Siskel and Ebert. We drink box wine and we listen to Weezer."
I was in love.
"I know, who am I, right? I'm like a cartoon character," MC Chris said mid-way through his set, possibly to the looks of many confused individuals across the audience. There was a core fan section upfront that was rocking out, and I smiled. Deviation against the grain was always good. The pint-sized rapper exited the stage with "Hey, uh, I'm gonna be in the back signing CDs and stuff if you want to come back and say hi, or grab my balls," and I grinned. Of course he was.
I made my way up to the front and waited patiently for a one Rob Crow to emerge, bottled Guinness in hand. This was Pinback's second stop in San Francisco in five months, and I was nervous that maybe I was pushing my luck. I have a theory that the more times I see individual bands the more the magic evaporates.
Thankfully, it wasn't the case. The band climbed up on stage shortly after 9 PM and settled in behind their places, launching into material off 2007's Autumn of the Seraphs and throwing in selections from previous full-lengths for good measure. "Good To Sea" incorporated a nice accompaniment of sprightly synth and catchy bass. "Devil You Know" finds a crescendo of drama slowly building to break into panging keys, "Something will be on the minds so undeveloped/So they will leave links to the banks to crack the codes" blaring from Crow's mouth and undoubtedly one of my favorite choruses by them. Dual lead singer Zach Smith shined as well with tracks like "Subbing For Eden" and "Off For 50," the latter the closer on Seraphs and one hell of a punch of dark bass and vocals. "Penelope," "Fortress," and "Non Photo Blue" also delivered the melodic, crisp, rock, and folk aspects Pinback has been able to craft over the years into a swirl of sound powerful enough for all occasions. I'd missed them, even though it had only been five months prior to my previous show.
"I'm soooo serious about stuff, guys," said Crow mid-set as he readied a guitar between songs, imitating a preteen. "No, but seriously, for all you pot smokers, could you blow it in the other direction? I want to be able to sing."
Listen to the man, folks. We don't want any tampering with greatness. After all, this is the band whose lead singers yelled "Star power!" during their encore Sunday night, raising their guitars a la Guitar Hero and then laughing hysterically...
Photos by Jenz