Ariel Pink Gives Us the Creeps

And that's the way the not-at-all-chill chillwave godfather likes it. Us, too.

Everyone at the show is real excited and crushing forward to get a good look at the myth. The four-man band (guitars, keys, bass, drums) takes the stage with zero ceremony. Then Pink announces that bassist Tim Koh is "taking a squiggly." House music comes on. The show finally starts. The band runs "the hits," and several of them sound as distant onstage as they do on record. Between songs, Pink points out that Michael Jackson died on his birthday. After "Round and Round"—the gauzy prom-ballad single from Before Today—he starts clapping rhythmically over his head, mocking the feeling that we're all getting a big, warm, stadium-rock rush in this little room. "Not that kind of event," he mutters, and looks off to the side of the stage.

Toward the end of the show, I notice I'm standing next to a friend. "Are you enjoying it?" she asks. I could be honest and say no, but then I'd have to explain that I'm not in it for the fun, per se—that I make time in my life for experiences that bother me in elemental ways, and that, sometimes, that feeling of being bothered is a lot richer than having fun anyhow. But I don't want to be an anti-social blowhard, so I say, "Yeah, it's pretty good."

Pink: "Lucky as fuck."
Santiago Felipe
Pink: "Lucky as fuck."

At one point during our talk, Pink says he only started making music to upset his family. (His father, a doctor, appeared on his album House Arrest, in the form of a voicemail about Pink's car being impounded: "You are unbelievable. Call me when you have a chance.") "My parents got divorced when I was younger, and it fucked me up," he says, "but I'm all over that now." Then he immediately brings up the fact that there are family tragedies he'd rather not bring up, and keeps gathering steam, shifting around on the couch and saying "fuck" every 10 words, a mess of nerves in a tiny room without air conditioning, minutes before a thunderstorm, not sure what to say next but unable to stop talking. He tells me he doesn't need to make music. He tells me there's no way he could make it like he used to anyhow. He tells me there was a time he was a deadbeat. Now he's got a record label. Now he's got all the love he needs. "I'm all filled up!" he says, tensing his neck and staring at me.

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