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Ariel Pink, The Luminaire 20.05.09

July 15, 2009

Finally, a long-awaited glimpse at LA cult artist Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti outfit: so why did I feel so let down by the whole occasion? Having wallowed in his lo-fi and ‘drowned in a muddy puddle’ releases like PapergutzHouse Arrest, I had been charmed. They were like pastel drawings of music, where someone had painted the basic outline and then rubbed a sweaty finger across them all for a smudged effect. But live, Ariel’s back catalogue is crystal clear. Normally you’d expect that from a properly mic-ed up and soundchecked gig but now it just didn’t fit.

Turning Ariel Pink into just another guitar band, ‘Interesting Results’ lost its jangly, rugged and discordant Beach Boys feel, ‘Among Dreams’ it’s airy, high-pitched squeal and ‘Baby Comes Around’, the sped-up record vocals on a sea of cycling tambourines appeal.

Unfortunately Ariel wasn’t even winning us over with any over-the-top stage antics. Unless asking the audience if anyone could hold his pocket full of change while he gets on with the show is a new form of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery that I’m not au fait with? And despite what his t-shirt said, he wasn’t ‘Joe Cool’ that night even with his little legs happily tucked into bleached jeans and leopard print plimsolls.

But you win some, you lose some; and that evening we discovered the Holloys, fresh from the Talking Head’s school of highlife rock. With not one but two full drum-kits and then (just in case you hadn’t got enough rhythm) a drum machine on top; we were firmly in ‘rock out with your cock out’ territory. Not that there were many ‘cocks out’ at the Luminaire that night. Brimming with posturing hipsters, I’d have to spend all day thinking of a clever line about posing that rhymed with ‘tache or thick rimmed specs. But I am a mere mortal with a looming deadline.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded Magazine]

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