by carl wilson

Ariel Pink's Spoiled Graffiti, Repainted


Saw the Ariel Pink/Psychic Ills performance at the Boat tonight - interrupted by a cameo appearance by the po-po because of a neighbour's noise complaint. (Hope this isn't the shape of things to come.) The Ills were quite fine, in much the vein I described last week but looser, with less ambient-shoegazery - but I have to say that in relation even to the most well-done neo-psychedelic soundscapery, with an attuned psychic (sorry) link among the players, I end up feeling I'd rather be listening to jazz. The analog synth and guitar interplay was the highlight, along with the low drones from the attractive bass player (the vocals were just murk), but I could only yearn that they would build their phrases from a broader harmonic-expressive lexicon. Most of the crowd seemed to, um, dig it, though.

And those folks and I parted ways partway again with Ariel Pink's set, which was marred from the start by the California boy's petulant, spoiled kvetching about the monitors and the mix, the shenanigans for which he's infamous live: "Everywhere I go, people fuckin' hate me," he bitched, with the echo on his mic providing a (not accidentally, I suspect) comical repetition and fade of his complaint. It drove a good portion of the Psychic Ills admirers out the door, if the delay-by-cop hadn't already done so. But with a sizable segment of the crowd stubbornly unwilling to take "I'm too much of a jerk" for an answer, he gradually got into a great groove, with his K-Tel-Greatest-Hits-Drenched-in-Bleach catchily-distorted tunes eventually rippling out into a vast concentric circle of warped sugarpop till I couldn't stop dancing. It was the back-from-the-brink effect, the "Reality Dub" (see previous explication in this post) that I find even more beguiling than conventionally good showmanship. But in this case the terms were reversed: Rather than Ariel manipulating the audience with a deliberate "throwing" of the show and a recovery, the audience manipulated him, clapping and singing and jiving along with songs that he was delivering only desultorily, until he had to unleash some of the Bowie-esque chameleonic superpowers you hear on his records, and regale us with these extraterrestrially idealized creations that channel the dessicated spirits of the Archies, Captain & Tennille, the Smiths and Depeche Mode, by turns, like a too-many-times-rewashed Magnetic Fields. (The polka-dot blouse helped.) I think my favourite factor was the half-dozen people in the crowd who kept mimicking him every time he used his little tic, his "shhhh" sounds over the backup-tape karaoke-instrumentals. It was Toronto saying, "Calm down, dude, we get conceptual indie-mock here, it's old news to us, just do your show and stop being so defensive." After threatening to walk off three times in the first five minutes, he ended up closing a 40-minute set (probably curtailed by the noise issue more than anything) by saying, "I'm really not used to such a supportive crowd." It made me proud of this open-skulled city, with its slogan, "We fix your damaged artists." Although I still thought, man, you should see Wax Mannequin - he'll show you how to deliver those mangled original-classics with real pizzazz.

Kudos by the way, to the Boat's skipper Trevor Coleman for handling the primadonna with egoless aplomb, which just reinforced the joy.

In Depth | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, February 21 at 3:09 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)



i see what you're saying. and i concur.

mmm mock duck. you said you lived in montreal... have you been to chuchai on st. denis (i think)?


Posted by nick_s on February 23, 2006 6:51 PM



I was using the "mock" term loosely - more like "mock duck" than meaning it's satire or anything. But I think the "haunted graffiti" tag makes it pretty clear that he's aware of the referential character of his stuff. Otherwise I agree with you, Nick.

Posted by zoilus on February 22, 2006 10:45 PM



On the topic of indie-mock... I don't really know whether Ariel Pink actually falls under that banner... I can't remember where I was reading it but someone offered the theory that Ariel Pink is actually completely sincere with his music, and that he's just kinda nuts. I think I'd buy that over the "oh he's just being ironic and goofy"... There's definitely some humour to his music, but I think he's actually somewhat nostalgic for the tunes of the era that he's appropriated.

Posted by nick_s on February 22, 2006 9:34 PM



That's great news about Wax Mannequin. He's playing three shows in Newfoundland this week-end. For most bands, Canada ends at Halifax.

Posted by kevin on February 22, 2006 4:17 PM



it's Tennille...

Posted by jason on February 22, 2006 3:35 PM



Hey Chris - No problem. Thanks, and sorry I came down so hard on you - and nice site you have there.

Posted by zoilus on February 22, 2006 11:30 AM



I'm sorry the link to my site didn't work. I by no means intend to put spam on other peoples sites/blogs. I'm an avid reader of your blog and was one of the lucky 17.000+ visitors yesterday. If you'd like to have a peak into my (amateur)work, the link is (it's been cut and pasted from my site, so if it doesn't work, it's not my fault). Again, I'm truly sorry.

Posted by Chris on February 21, 2006 5:28 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson