Live Review: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ Neumo’s 7/13

Magic Kids, Puro Instinct, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ Neumo’s, Seattle 7/13/2010
Review by Jason Kinnard

Has it really been that long since I was last at Neumo’s? Maybe so, but after a couple Elysian “Fucking Losers“, I suddenly felt right at home. I still find it odd that it’s light outside until 9 or 10 PM in the Summer here, it always feels wrong sitting in a dark bar when it’s so nice outside.  I make these sacrifices for you, the reader… But mostly I just wanted to hear some live music.

Speaking of music, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bill. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti was a band I had been sorta listening to a little here and there. Of course I noticed their name getting thrown around considerably more after Pitchfork rained praise on their new album Before Today with a “coveted” 9.0 rating. If you’ve read my take on Pitchfork, you know what I think about their “rating system” and what they can do with it, but for Indie bands (fortunately or unfortunately), it’s a barometer a lot of lazy industry people use to determine what they should or shouldn’t be listening to. I wonder how the band felt in 2004 with the 5.0 rating they received for The Doldrums. O.K. I’m getting sidetracked here, what did I actually think about the band on-stage?

The evening started with Magic Kids, a keyboard heavy twee-pop band from Tennessee with stars in their hair and smiles on their faces. Not memorable, but not terrible either. As the band started playing, it was funny to walk in and see local photog Brittney Bollay with the entire crowd pushed back like 10 feet behind her while she took photos of the band. From twitter:

@brittneybush“Turned around at Neumos to find that the crowd, all 6 feet back, had created an impromptu photo pit for me. Strange.. But easy to work with.”

Next up was the mostly girl band from L.A. Puro Instinct. They were cute as a button when they were setting up on stage; that mood shifted quickly as they had major technical problems before even getting started. Neumo’s was nearing a packed house and the Seattle crowd was getting antsy. Since I was right against the stage, I could tell there were obviously some microphone problems for the lead-singer. Was it all the pedals these girls use? I don’t know. Despite numerous equipment swaps, they were no closer to getting the problem resolved, and you could quickly start to see the sweet faces of sisters Piper and Skylar turn grim as they looked for answers. Sometimes that’s how Rock & Roll goes girls, but at the end of the night the show must go on (aka – Never let em’ see you sweat!).

Once they finally got started, the girls sounded like Fleetwood Mac meets Vivian Girls meets Hole. That washed out lo-fi sound (ala Vivian Girls) is a hard one to reproduce live and I could tell it just wasn’t their night (hearing “fuck it, we’re almost finished” isn’t a good sign). It’s like a pitcher giving up a home-run on the first at-bat, it just throws off your whole game. Only a few shows in, I’m sure they’ll figure it out and get the technical bugs worked out. Cutest band of the night for sure. Just remember to keep smiling girls 🙂 P.S. Brittney really liked your sparkly shoes.

Finally, we were all ready for headliner Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. It had to be about Midnight already at least, so I was ready to hear what all the fuss was about. Despite what I’d consider a pretty solid album as a complete piece, their music was a ittle more accessible to me listening at home than it was translated on stage. Having known little about the band before the show, Ariel Pink was an interesting frontman, hawking wares one minute, driving at least a few crazy girls wild in the front. We had crazy girl in black dress and arm cast going nuts for most of the set. Favorite line I heard her say was “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST TOUCH MY HAND?” followed by her actually hanging her hand out and pointing to it for at least a couple songs. Thankfully, between songs Ariel came over and gave her a nice big high-five which elicited cheers from the crowd and a “thank god” from me.

Moving on, Ariel Pink is a little guy, but don’t let that fool ya. He’s a little guy that can hold his own as a Rock & Roll front man. Think of a white Prince or a mini Kurt, without the guitar skills or the dance moves. His long hair and over-sized aviator style shades were in sharp contrast to most of their set which confused me at times. Is it funk, is it surf pop, is it dance rock? Sure, crowd favorite from the new album sounded spot-on (“Bright Lit Blue Skies” and “Round and Round”), but IMO the band really hit their stride when they got loud. I have no idea what the name of the song was (2nd song into their set), but when they cranked it up and turned on the distortion, they sounded like the baddest ass stoner rock band you’ve ever heard. A couple of us said “wow” after that one, sadly I don’t remember saying that again. I thought the album was great, but maybe I missed something in the live delivery or I just don’t get it. Whatever it is, crazy girl in black dress and arm cast thought it was the greatest thing in the world, so who am I to ruin the fun? Pitchfork?

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~ by clickdagger on July 15, 2010.

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