All photos: Nick Balleza
It is to my understanding that Ariel Pink is a strange guy. For example, a song on his new album Mature Themes is about his love for sausage. Last week’s profile of Pink in Pitchfork revealed that he was a Canada Dry-addict who recently kicked a girl out of his Los Angeles house because she was turning it into a “zombie drug den.” Even bandmate Tim Koh recalled Pink “just looked like a weird guy” when they first met. Therefore, it was not a surprise that Pink came out on stage wearing a purple kimono. It was, however, a surprise that Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti bored the hell out of a half-full 9:30 Club Thursday evening.
There’s no other way to put this, so I’ll just come out and say out: Ariel Pink sounded like fart. He was fucked up out of his gourd, yammering over keyboard squeals and talk-singing his lyrics, a tragedy because he’s not a strong singer to begin with. His reinterpretation of “Love Me Do” during a verse of opener “Symphony of the Nymph” (replacing the genius words of “She’s a nympho at the bibliotech/Dr. Mario, colonoscopist…”) was an interesting start to the evening, juxtaposing his lo-fi psychedelic pop with The Beatles’ early hit. But things went quickly downhill, as he slurred his way through “Is This The Best Spot?” and several songs from his new album.
Before “Kinski Assassin,” he grabbed a beer which didn’t leave his grip for the rest of the set. His warbling of “Who sank my battleship? I sank my battleship!” was particularly annoying, butchering what is one of Themes’ stronger songs.
One of the night’s few highlights was “Round and Round,” a dirty little ditty from their previous album Before Today. This hazy gem shows there’s some genius inside of Pink’s mad mind. The song is instantly loveable, featuring a quirky intro, a catchy bassline and a chant of, “We’ll dazzle them all!” It should also be known that Ariel Pink was curled into a ball at the front of the stage as he sang the chorus, still clutching his Sierra Nevada.
The trickster chose to end the set with “Nostradamus & Me,” an 8-minute piece of drone that comprised mostly of Pink reciting, “Goodbye! Goodbye!” again and again. The crowd did not look amused. Why he chose to play this song instead one of his many choice nuggets—the rocking “Butt-House Blondies” off Before Today or the his souful cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby” (one of the year’s best slow jams imo) would be two great substitutions—proved to me that Ariel had to be trolling his fans. Rather than come off as an eccentric genius, he came off as an druggy asshole. I have no doubt that Ariel Pink is a pretty weird dude, but to quote one his own lyrics, he’s “trying too hard / To be what you already are.”
The opener was a guy wearing a safety vest DJing monster noises.