Kevin Norris

Pinback @ The El Rey Theatre 11/14/09

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San Diego’s indie rock act Pinback features two of the most talented and dynamic musicians in the entire genre at its core. Singer/bassist Zach Smith and singer/guitarist Rob Crow both share a knack for weaving complex instrumentation, mesmerizing melodies, and brainy lyrics between themselves so much so that it sometimes feels like they are one person. By this virtue, the two are able to mutually create a composed atmosphere where they mold a shared style into the unique sound of their unit. As its been quite obvious on all of their recordings, the results are fantastic; however it was made much more apparent on the tours finale at the sold out El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.

The heavily bearded Crow and seemingly bashful Smith took the stage with their three piece backing band to an enormous uproar from the boisterous crowd. The band quickly sedated the rowdy with an early rendition of the sluggish but alluring “Tres.” Songs off 2001’s “Blue Screen Life” (“Offline P.K.,” “Penelope”)and 1999’s self-titled (“Tripoli,” “Loro”) were seen as the minority, as most of the night was anchored around Pinback’s last two albums, 2004’s “Summer in Abandon” and 2007’s “Autumn of the Seraphs.”

It was with the introspective sound of the two albums that the duo was able to showcase their masterful skills. Smith’s ability to play his intricate bass lines with such ease was mind-blowing; his nimble fingers at work was far more compelling to watch than the various images of oceans, flowers, ’50s style cars, archaic computers, and spaceships that they had projected behind them. Crow also provided songs like “How We Breathe,” “Walters,” and “Syracuse” with superb guitar work, transpiring the various tones and themes of each.

The pinnacle of their performance was not in the much desired encore – in which they played the 11 minute “Grey Machine,” “Sender,” and sinister “Devil You Know” – rather it was the exceedingly upbeat versions of “AFK,” “No Photo Blue,” and “Bouquet” during the main set that influenced the crowd to bop their heads, dance, and sing in unison with the two leaders of the remarkable night – a night that made those in attendance wonder why the band has failed to put out a live album already.

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