Tuesday, August 12, 2008

ariel pink @ the echo

Review by Guest Hipster: L.A.R.A review. Being the record of a show at the Echoplex from the “Thanks Mom, I’m Dead” tour featuring Chairlift and the oh-so-strange-yet-somehow-totally-awesome Ariel Pink & Haunted Graffiti.

I have to admit; I have a huge place in my heart for electro-pop. I don’t know when or where it was, but at some point in the 80’s I heard something wonderful -- something synthetic and light, dramatic yet fun and oh-so-catchy and…hey! You can dance to it! …I was hooked. Perhaps my predilection made me love Chairlift’s set last night, but I have a suspicion that their surprisingly mature, 80’s inspired sound and lack of pretension could have had more to do with it.

Chairlift’s folky electro-pop jams washed over me like waves of synthesized 80’s nostalgia that tasted faintly of New Order and blueberries. Their secret weapon is petite lead singer/keyboardist Caroline Polachek - who made full use of her ample range, letting it glide over sweeping synths and bass drones, her voice reaching out to grab unexpected notes - whispery and bubble-gum one moment, throaty and complex the next -- a marvelous singing voice that lends their sound an unexpected - and wonderful - complexity. Her singing was punctuated by lead guitarist Aaron Pfenning whose licks were perfect - just a touch of reverb and that yearning, wailing sound that makes you want to be the one up there on the stage making it look as easy as he did. The whole thing was brought together nicely with the subdued percussion of drummer Patrick Wimberly, who had everyone bobbing their heads and stomping their feet. I loved it. Great show, well worth looking into their stuff; check out Chairlift’s premiere full-length CD “Does You Inspire You” on Kanine Records.

Up next was the unabashedly strange Ariel Pink and Haunted Graffiti who, frankly, impressed the heck out of me. Pacing around on stage, shooting crazy looks, crouching, hooting, and generally making “unrehearsed-crazy-awesome-maybe-high” look easy, Ariel was at his disheveled finest. Haunted Graffiti keyboardist Kenny Gilmore, bassist Tim Koh, drummer Jimi Hey, and guitarist Cole M. Greif-Neill all pulled off a great set backing Pink up; the atmosphere was loud, high-energy, raucous and really fun.

Trying to describe Pink’s sound is difficult at best. Mixing folk, electronic, 60’s rock… all blended and poured over a tall glass of spookily strange abstract-pop. A far-cry from his recordings full of warbling tape distortion, his live set was loud, fast and nonstop -- the only pause in the action being when Pink and the band suddenly ran off stage to return a few minutes later, holding cigarettes and immediately jumping back into the show. Though the subject of criticism for some, I found Pink’s bizarre on-stage act (?) endearing; he had people dancing around the floor, cheering on his antics and questioning what was going on all at the same time -- a feat of which I am personally jealous. Overall, Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti provided a wonderfully entertaining show - my favorite part being Ariel calling out for the end of history by chanting “let 2012 happen now!” Not for the close-minded, I think a friend put it best when he said of Pink: “this is the kind of music parents think of when they say to each other ‘he’s into that crazy rock and roll’ and shake their heads sadly.” Rock shows come and go, but it isn’t often that a band leaves me excited for music, tapping my feet and wondering what exactly just happened at the end of their set; Ariel Pink & Haunted Graffiti is more than glad to fill that niche -- get yo-self some at their myspace.

(photo Chairlift: Ross Fraser)

Edit: Now that Chairlift is playing in the big leagues, previous Mp3 freebies are considered "copyright infringement." Pity.

mp3: "Jules Lost His Jewels" by Ariel Pink
mp3: "Evident Utensil" by Chairlift

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