Toronto – I went into Thursday’s Ariel Pink concert not having listened to any of the band’s music. A few of my friends had recommended them and after briefly skimming some articles about them, I was interested. Their lead singer – Ariel Marcus Rosenberg was apparently a volatile guy and they were supposedly theatrical. That’s more then enough for me to make the short walk to the Mod Club. They were in town to promote their album Before Today, their first album off 4AD records.
First of all, the Mod Club charges 7 dollars a bottle for beer!!! I didn’t purchase one, but be forewarn the next time you go to the Mod Club.
The band came on at around 8:45 to a nice applause and general excitement which soon transformed to confusion as the band stood there and watched as their nonsensical introductory video played. I would suggest playing your video then taking the stage, but what do I know.
The bands set consisted of many 70s inspired psych rock tunes punctuated by random noises that lead vocalist Ariel would make into the microphone. These noises ranged from clicks to shhhh’s to whispers to sneezing. Speaking of Ariel, for better or for worse he definitely was the main focus of the show. Looking like a cross between Mitch Herbert and 70s era Ozzie, he did his best to come off as a cool as fuck rock and roller despite wearing a shirt clearly too small for him. His antics included swinging a leather belt around and taking off his pants which really didn’t do anything for anyone. Interaction with the crowd didn’t happen until about halfway through the show, but the tone of his voice gave off a sense of entitlement that probably was not deserved. To me, it seemed like he was trying hard to give off a cool vibe but it really didn’t work. Not only for me, but most of the crowd seemed rather indifferent to the show. There were only a handful of songs that got the crowd going, one of which is current single Round and Round, to which Ariel told the crowd “You’ll like this one, I’m psychic about this shit” Of course, that only confirmed the suspicion most people weren’t really digging what was being played.
Having said all that, I thought Ariel Pink’s backing band, The Haunted Graffiti were pretty good. It must be hard to play when someone is swinging a leather belt inches away from your face for a majority of the night, but they did fine in generating a very 70s classic rock/glam rock/la punk kind of vibe.
Overall the show was a bit disappointing. It never seem to consistently capture strong momentum. The perfect example of this was the encore, when after a surprisingly large applause, the band came on and played some tune that had Ariel basically wailing on the mic for six minutes. Having said that, it’s fairly obvious that under the layers of unnecessary sound and effects, Ariel Pink can wrote quality pop songs with hooks in them, I just wonder if they’ll ever realize it.