Stephanie Deere

Ariel Pink @ The Fonda 10/05/2012

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Photo: © Stephanie Deere

Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti plucked various hard-to-describe grooves last Friday night at the Fonda Theater in Hollywood, CA. An artist from Beverly Hills, whose work over the past decade has defied categorization as the most immediate, bizarre, and straightforward pop/rock of ‘70s and ‘80s new wave. As a songwriter, Pink has a real sense of pop/rock influences ranging from David Bowie, The Cure, and the Bee Gees to Frank Zappa and Brian Eno. The other thing to say about Ariel Pink’s music is that, it’s well, weird. The bands newest album, Mature Themes, is one of the strangest albums you’ll hear this year. Perhaps, too unusual for some; however, it’s unabashedly pretty, ecstatic, and full of unique gems, often comically so.

The Fonda Theater was filled with a surprisingly diverse collection of individuals—a wide range of the young and the old, music lovers, your casual dressed, and many couples. As anyone who’s read-up on Ariel Pink will tell you, this is not your everyday career musician. It was a quick glance around the audience that confirmed all eyes were on Pink—wearing his typical zany attire. Behind the band appeared a background of wooden posts, wrapped with white lights, spelling out the lettering on the cover of his newest creation, Mature Themes. Ariel Pink, whose hair was dyed bleached blonde, wore matching black pants and a jacket with glitter-sequins, and women high heels, of course.

Though Pink paces the stage and aimlessly wanders as if he’s looking for something, suggests he’s somewhat nervous, but his haunt-ology vocals and hypnagogic pop sounds were delivered to perfection. “Symphony of the Nymph” opens the night, proving Ariel was born to do what he does.

“We’re back home!” shouts Pink.

Ariel Pink has often been known for terrible live performances, yet the band appeared to have great live versions of the songs I’ve come to love. Despite the few minor technical difficulties, the mostly new-album set had a solid sound, which made a satisfying aural experience. It was also my first own experience of Ariel Pink (and his Haunted Graffiti) live, and I’ll tell ya, it’s the distinctive rhythm and all round of bizarre reams of words that makes Ariel Pink truly one of a kind artist. However, it almost possesses a certain cult status that maintains the image of him as an outside artist of sorts, including his performance on the particularly annoying “Is This The Best Spot?”

“Step into my time warp / Step into my time warp now”

It’s some weird shit, but you won’t be disappointed if you hang in there and keep exploring. The lead track on the newest album, “Only in My Dreams” was delivered spot on, playing off its mix of dreamy, quirky elaborate vocal arrangements, and every bit of outlandish. Pink’s far-reaching vocals and highly animated performance of the song “Mature Themes” was another particular stand out of the night.

“Lets get this over with.”

“I’m so sorry–No I’m not, wait, yes I am”

“Okay, let’s do it–This song is called Pink Slime. This is what I do for a living,”

Says Pink, to the audience.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti has a variety of material where they could probably play for a few days without stopping, but keeping up with that could prove to be an exhausting task. Therefore, it was Friday night’s performance that ended up being such a whirlwind and very short-lived. Ariel Pink sped through his songs like crazy. Sure, he had a little interaction with the audience, but it’s that side of his personality that has been well documented—his gritty, wired, and out-of-control charisma, it’s definitely shown at his live performances.

“Pink Slime”—“Bright Lit Blue Skies”—then lastly, “Menopause Man”

“This is the last song, and my last show in L.A, I swear.” stated Pink.

His explosion of uniqueness has people asking, “Is this for real?” or is he just taking the piss? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, everyone in attendance hopes that it wasn’t Ariel Pink’s last show; unfortunately, it really was his last song of the night. Ariel seemed irritable due to the sound difficulties, and stopped playing after the last song. There was no encore.

“shhh ahhh shhh ahhhh”

“shhh ahhhh” Pink whispers in his microphone until the curtains came down, and he made his exit.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s set operated a weird level to start to finish. Bands this blindingly charismatic and obviously smart don’t come along every day, or put on gigs this gloriously entertaining. Ariel Pink, it’s official, you are one weird dude. I love it.

Setlist: | Symphony of the Nymph | One on One | Kinski Assassin | Is This The Best Spot? | Mature Themes | Pink Slime | Only In My Dreams | Bright Lit Blue Skies | Early Birds of Babylon | Fright Night (Nevermore) | Menopause Man

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