Missed stretched-songers Belong, frustrating because that album is tops and would have loved to feel out the warm red and orange Fenneszian fuzz in real space, not just on headphones or in my sardine can apartment. Reports appreciated below.
Let’s be reasonable about Ariel Pink. LA’s backwoods/backwards DIY madman is not an idiot savant, not particularly backwoods or madmannish either. He’s an artiste, and his put-on is that he dwells in the AM radio kitsch we’ve all forgotten about or given up on for the next big Next Big Thing. To another, he’s something along the lines of a real-life Weekend at Bernie’s where Pink is Jonathan Silverman and Bernie Lomax is decades of now-listless chord changes and spent turns of phrase and once bleeding-edge keyboard and drum sounds. I don’t know where this leaves Weekend at Bernie’s 2, but I’m pretty sure it probably has something to do with grime.
There’s a place for this sort of crooked institutional memory, but it’s uncomfortable, a little brute, on-the-nose. Pink’s songs make it clear how quickly pop’s tropes turn over, what a ruse timelessness actually is. The reaction itself is kitschy, like thinking about all the old Legos you had to take down and Brio trains that you just gave away, just so you could move in your Quadra 610 or new stereo speakers. But it is affecting, unsettling, and I imagine that’s why some people really love this shit, and how it fits into others’ endless fountain of the new agenda.
Pink is funny too occasionally, which excuses the headiness of this whole affair, and which goes back to the artiste thing–he knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t know the song, but whatever one the scruffy, long-haired Pink–he was wearing something of a muumuu, thus casting himself as the Cobainish character from Last Days–but he just kept singing “Night time is GREAT! Night time is GREAT!” over and over, maybe ten minutes over the same keyboard loops (he had ditched last time’s guitars and backing band, the Haunted Graffiti). At one point though, while pulling back his mane so he could see, Pink smirked a little, delighted in our discomfort. We don’t get that smirk on the record obviously, but it really moves the “who’s taking whose piss?” debate from Paw Tracks/Animal Collective curatorial hee-haw to Oh, Pink Has a Schtick, and I think I’m more excited about the latter than the former, even if it means the live performance was dogshit.
He played “For Kate I Wait,” a few of the first songs from the first album of his everyone heard, all of them stretched out and always too long, letting the pop he redeemed destroy itself via overexposure, yet again. Pink had a few Gary Wilson moments (if we’re generous), karoake moments elsewhere, ad-libbing falsettos and Idol posing, and that’s all cute. But for so conceptual an act his mere physical appearance on stage really distracted. On record he’s possibly brilliant, but live it’s like seeing a porn star in street clothes, no makeup, boobs deflated, struggling to carry bags of groceries she bought for her family. Do you help her?