Reviews > Shows
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti at the Rio
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Less than a minute into his first song of the evening, a sunglasses wearing Ariel Pink slid off the stage and into the crowd while delivering the lyrics to his pop funk number “Beverly Kills.” A few seconds later, the diminutive vocalist was hoisted above the crowd and jostled about like a small boat in rough seas. When the chaotic opening song came to a close, Pink looked towards his band mates onstage and remarked: “It sounds so much better here. Nothing personal boys.”
But, after a few songs where the performance was on the verge of falling apart, the group hit its stride only when Pink returned to the stage and kept close to his microphone stand.
During the earlier chaotic moments, it seemed like guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Kenny Gilmore of Pink’s backing band Haunted Graffiti was an integral part of keeping the music from going all the way off the rails. At times, Pink’s echoey vocals were just a smear of noise above the music.
When he climbed back to his band mates and became temporarily focused, Pink led the band through a tight “Menopause Man” where bassist Tim Koh stoically plucked away at the song’s killer bass line as a girl from the crowd got up on the stage and imitated a shaking dog. (Hey, it’s Santa Cruz.) Later, during the night’s high point, a revved up “Bright Lit Blue Skies” jolted the band to life, while a similarly spot-on “Round and Round” ended with Pink’s singing being buttressed by his band mates’ backing vocals.
A Los Angeles based eccentric who had made over a decade’s worth of low-fi recordings before his latest album, Before Today, was released by 4AD this summer, Pink was continually struck by the young ages of the approximately 150 person audience in the 938 seat theater. “Don’t you guys have finals,” he asked. “I want to go to school so bad.”
Then, after a rambling bit about psychotherapy, the quintet ended the evening with a noisy encore featuring the twin guitar attacks of “Little Wig” and “Butt-House Blondies,” where Pink bellowed the lyrics as he crawled around his bassist’s legs like a child.
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