Pitchfork Music Festival 2011, Sunday: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
There are artistic temperaments and then there are true eccentrics. I didn't think that Ariel Pink is playing his quirks up for the crowd today, just letting his freak flag fly as on any other day. And like many a bedroom producer brought out into the limelight, the former goth has no problem reminding us that he'd much rather not be here, or be in the sunshine anywhere.
During the band's set today, there were both moments of near-orchestrated pop ecstasy and moments of total frustration. You can say one thing about Pink, he's surrounded himself with some ace players. Principally it was drummer Aaron Sperske (who worked with an eccentric popster frontman in the late great Lilys, so he knows the drill) who held the gig together with great feel, execution and perfect stick placement on the kit—plus fab rolls as needed. The four guys backing Pink showed they could launch into flamboyant glam rock or super-tight amphetamine space punk at a moment's notice. The overall effect was hippy children with ADD touring the fertile '60s and '70s pop underworld while force-feeding us randomly acquired pharmaceuticals, all on a cruise ship with no shade.
Pink carried a small mixing board, wore a crackling headset microphone, staggered around the stage, lit a ciggie and dropped somewhat thoughtful critiques of the matters of the day, sometimes even muttering about Tyler the Creator joining the band on stage. "The real problem is women and how we treat them, right guys?," he asked us. None of that would have been an issue save the crackling headset (which seemed run through the crapulizer effect) which was an annoyance for listeners and didn't seem to offer anything except Pink's mobility. Maybe let's try a standard microphone next time, guys?
Eventually, the band cut the set short at only about (I'm guessing) 30 minutes, whether by design or accident—Sperske and the singer seemed to have each called off the music half-jokingly due to monitor mix issues and then realized too late that they had actually really called it off. Or at least that's what it looked like. It was somewhat bizarre, but I would guess par for the course for Pink. There's nuggets of genius in tunes like "Bright Lit Blue Skies," but we had to dig a bit too hard to reveal them today. No matter, we'll be back for more.