Ariel Pink 2/10/15, Seattle

Dates: February 10, 2015

Location: Neumos, Seattle WA


At Neumos, natch!


Well, I finally got the chance to check out one of the best bonafide bands walking the planet at the moment, on Feb. 10 at Seattle’s Neumos. You may be well aware that mastermind Ariel Rosenberg took the moniker Pink and began prolific music-making galore as a bedroom hobby before the turn of this last century. It has since grown into band project Haunted Graffiti, rotated members until the right ones clicked, and for the last three albums or so made appearances overground as a great live spectacle.

So this isn’t exactly a hot new group; they have been making the rounds a bit. What made last night’s show especially great is that while Haunted Graffiti are at the height of popularity, they are touring under what Pink confusingly calls his “solo album” tour. And his latest offerings from the album “pom pom” were even better when recreated on stage, revealing that Pink’s talents show little signs of tiring, no matter the context.

Neumos was packed on a Tuesday and after a set by Jack Name, a grooving and gloomy opener that set the mood nicely, a feeling of a storm was undoubtedly in the air. Red curtains, fog machine and lights seem like a totally necessary backdrop for Ariel’s brand of grit and glam. And when his ensemble finally walked on stage, the place lit up with an energy that I honestly didn’t see coming. Pink took his place with a pair of aviator glasses and blew up his reverb drenched mic with banter… “we graduated from Neumos but here we are again…” something condescendingly funny to that effect.

It was the glasses; I saw hints of Tony Clifton underneath those shades. His look changed in a moment however when the group threw themselves into “Not Enough Violence.” This new song off the solo album, almost on cue, sent a few folks hurtling, moshing, or shoving their way toward the front of the stage. A girl next to me, already upset with pushy fans, had her glasses knocked clean off her head and minutes later could only find a single lens.

I half-checked around the floor, fearing I might accidentally have my head kicked in if I investigated too closely, and found myself drifting towards the front, not quite against my own volition. “Not Enough Violence” was a great opener that sounded like a cut track from The Cure’s “Pornography…” and Ariel had switched in my mind’s eye from Tony Clifton to that one guy from Sisters of Mercy. You know, the one guy on the cover of “Floodland?” Once the first song had clocked out, the higher energy tracks continued with great renditions of “Lipstick” and “White Freckles.” I even got a boost from some guy and rode the air before taking a welcoming fall to the floor filled with pogoing and manic dancing. It had been a great view from up there.

After the first three workouts, Ariel implored everyone to take it down a notch to enjoy some slower ballads. At this point they played one of their latest hits, “Put Your Number In My Phone,” which led to slow dancing and maybe some heavy petting. They later moved into the headbanging “Four Shadows,” followed by Pink cueing his group to play two old favorites…

I sang most of the words to “Menopause Man” and “Life in L.A.” (two songs I really wanted to hear but didn’t expect) and felt totally in bliss. These two songs in particular, for me, show off everything his group is capable of; Tim Koh is a great and capable bass player that could sit in with the Jacksons, while Joe Kennedy plays infectiously great keyboard and a mean sax. Kenny Gilmore also plays the keys like a virtuoso and catches a break on guitar so fairly new member Jorge Elbrecht can show off his chops. And L.A. Punk legend Don Bolles (of The Germs and a thousand other bands) filled in on drums and acts like a swiss watch. Ariel referred to him as their “leader,” only second in command to the fog machine.

At this point my memory gets a little sketchy, but I believe they reentered their new album material to play the odd “Black Ballerina” and (give or take a track, maybe) ended with the saddening “Picture Me Gone,” and plenty of audience swaying. But of course the show couldn’t end on such a downer. Since a bit of “pom pom” was written by another member of L.A. Rock royalty, the late great Kim Fowley, it was only right that the group reclaimed the stage minutes later to play tribute. “Sexual Athletics,” garage rock cover “Bright Lit Blue Skies” and the energizing “Dayzed Inn Daydreams” closed out the set proper.

If anyone left Neumos dissatisfied, I didn’t see it. Pink and co. are a tight unit, maybe even something closer to Ariel’s vision when he was still producing a la Prince. And after some limelight troubles and issues with a previous drummer, it seems Pink may finally be satisfied with the live shows he presents to us these days. In short, Ariel Pink and his supporting band are worth the price of admission.


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