In concert: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti at Rock & Roll Hotel
By Aaron Leitko
Success has not changed Ariel Pink. During Wednesday night’s sold-out performance at Rock & Roll Hotel the singer bounded about the stage, vogueing like Dr. Frankenfurter’s understudy while his backing band, Haunted Graffiti, laid down quiet storm grooves and Tom Scott-worthy midnight saxophone leads. In other words, it was business as usual.
For the better part of a decade the Los Angeles-based songwriter has been a factory for noise-laden, frequently inscrutable, surrealist pop — which, aside from a dedicated cult of weirdo-lifers, met with critical and public indifference.
It’s only recently that Pink, now 32, has crossed over to into something resembling wider popularity. His just released record, “Before Today,” has turned heads with its washed-out take on ’70s soft rock and “Miami Vice”-inspired synthesizer sleaze. It’s his most consistent and traditionally tuneful effort to date.
(Frightening the newbies, after the jump.)
But people who came to Pink’s gig hoping for an ironic take on Seals & Croft got a little more than they bargained for. Songs like “Menopause Man” spliced Hall & Oates-style R&B melodies with lyrics from the John Waters-school of tastelessness. “Make me maternal/fertile woman/make me menstrual/menopause man,” sang Pink. For the uninitiated, it may have been a little much.
Which isn’t totally surprising. For an audience composed of college kids and teens, Pink’s latest tunes must conjure a strange brew of emotions — repackaging their banal, car-seat-bound, AM Gold memories into LSD-soaked art-school nightmares.
By minute six of the zonked-out prog-rock anthem “Gettin’ High in the Morning,” — close to the end of its 90-minute set — the curious had stepped out the door. And by the time the band broke into the glammy “Butt-House Blondies,” they were back to playing for the true believers.
July 29, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Ariel Pink
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