[10 June 2011]
Ariel Pink aims to please no one. It’s a conceit that is equally frustrating and pleasing, especially in concert last week Thursday night at Irving Plaza. A dark silhouette twisting about in sunglasses onstage, he eschewed any spotlight, literally, joking at one point about how dark it was onstage and then immediately admonishing the crew as the lights were gently raised. He is still ostensibly touring in support of Before Today, released with his backing group Haunted Graffiti last year. While its perhaps Pink’s most refined record, in person it regresses into the same inexorable psychedelic inspired fuzz that has been his bedrock. However, his band was exceptionally tight. A rhythm section in tandem provided a continuous groove under moody synths and heavy vocal effects. “Round and Round” exemplified this as well as Pink’s inexhaustible skill of composing perfect bass lines. Though the thin crowd seemed to mostly expect a disengaged performance, “Fright Night (Nevermore)” did become a quasi sing-along. Pink didn’t really care, and neither did anyone else.