The Great Lo-Fi Hope

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti brings out the alts

The Great Lo-Fi Hope

When Ariel Pink played Emo's solo a few years ago, it was delightfully awkward, the perfect reflection of his music at the time. He was touring behind House Arrest, and the show felt as shambolic as the album; his mid-set breakdown was amplified by the fact that he was wearing a muumuu.

Cut to 2010. With the release of latest Before Today, L.A.'s Ariel Rosenberg has gone from four-track experiment to new levels of alt-ness. Being odd has become fashionable. Perhaps that's what made last night's show at Mohawk so bizarre.

"This new stuff just sounds like Can," remarked one young man nearby who was possibly listening to another band or had just learned about Can in Spin. Pink and co. excel in breezy summertime funk that goes down easy, perfect for chillin' by the pool and drinking margaritas, but it took a few songs for them to lock in gear.

Pink, clad in a striped shirt, looked sort of like Kurt Cobain, dyed blond hair hanging in his face, until he started strutting around to the beat, puffing his chest out Mick Jagger-style. The material from Before Today is certainly his most "pop" to date, with actual structure and melody, but his band was the saving grace. They held him together when he started derailing.

The music itself was hit or miss, caught in a bounce house of iffy vocal levels, swirling keys, and thumping bass, like flipping through dials on the radio. Although his lyrics are pretty unintelligible, there were people singing along. The crowd was pretty dude-heavy, and one guy up front kept grabbing Pink's crotch. Understandable. I mean, he did invent chillwave.

By the end of the set, only the true fans remained, the merely curious having exited already. It was definitely a step up from the hot mess at Emo's, but Pink seems more well-suited to cult figure than blogosphere darling. However, I wouldn't be surprised if one of his songs ends up on The Hills or Teen Mom or something.

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