[Photos and words by Rez Avissar]
Vivian Girls opened.
It has been a productive period for Ariel Pink, who has been releasing new material steadily through blogs and his MySpace over the past few months. Now with a new cleaned-up sound and a full, solid touring band, his current outing is his most ambitious. Indeed, in a MySpace blog, he wrote: "HAUNTED GRAFFITI IS FULLY COOKED and DRESSED UP FOR OUR BIGGEST and BUSIEST TOUR."
I've seen him in the past and the shows were wonderfully disastrous tragicomedies, pissing off many but ultimately adding to his legend. This time, however, I feel like the band should have been called Ariel Pink and the Haunted Graffiti, as the full band added a new dynamic. Yes, he's toured with multiple helping hands in the past (most notably a tour where he invited different amateurs from town to town), but the difference here was the tightness. For the first time, the consensus seems to be that Pink & Co killed it. He said in an interview that he "likes to be a good singer and like to be backed up by good sounds" and that definitely showed here -- but another thing he said was that there's minimal preparation involved. Maybe on his part (still stoned, still awkward), but especially in the epic and largely instrumental "Trepanated Earth", it showed that the band had definitely been doing some prepping.
The thing about his discography is that there are so many good tunes, and typically, he (rightfully) divides his setlists between standards and gems. While I could write a long wishlist of tunes I wish they'd play, over the course of the long set the band did bring out highlights such as "Among Dreams," "Trepanated Earth," "For Kate I Wait," "Interesting Results," new single "Can't Hear My Eyes", and a surprise "The Bottom". This also marks the first time I've seen people inspired to dance at an Ariel Pink show.
It's been a productive period for Pink and as a long time devotee to the Pink cult I'm glad to see the end of a long struggle of finding a solid backing band, as well as new, honed and slightly polished musical beginnings. Definitely hoping his next focus is a new full-length full of new of haunted gems that never were. In the meantime, you can follow the band on their blog, Earth Foot.