After interviewing singer/guitarist Rob Crow and having an at-length discussion of Star Wars, my expectations for Pinback's live show were set pretty high. He said somewhat vaguely, "Everybody agrees these are the best shows that we've ever played," which made me feel a little skeptical, but the concert sold out well ahead of time, so there must be something that brings fans back year after year.
Pinback performs at Crescent Ballroom.The size of Pinback's touring band has varied in the past. This time around, fellow San Diegan and No Knife drummer Chris Prescott joined the core duo of Rob Crow and Zach Smith. Two string musicians joined for the first two songs, adding emphasis and dramatic flair to the somewhat surprising opening song from the Offcell EP, "Victorious D."
Pinback's mellow math rock dalliance with indie pop ran the risk of being too subdued live, but as Crow dramatically sang "angels suffering" in "Victorious D," it was clear that Pinback's live songs were quite different than their recorded counterparts.
Some songs were sped up -- in fact, the band has been criticized in the past for playing too fast, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most changes sounded great, as "Penelope" now included an electric guitar jam toward the end.
Changing tones and tempos resulted in the most memorable part of the evening. Crow set his guitar down for "Fortress" to dramatically sing along and dance around the stage. He did jumping jacks as a warm-up of sorts before he darted off the stage and wandered into the lounge, much to the bewilderment of Dry River Yacht Club's crowd.
To the delight of fans, some songs didn't change much. The introspective "Loro" sounded as beautiful as ever, as the audience quietly sang along to the "do do do" and struggled to keep up with Smith's random string of numbers in the chorus. The singalongs continued after "Fortress," as some folks jumped around to the true to form "Good to Sea."
Pinback played 2012's Information Retrieved in its entirety, with the exception of "Denslow, You Idiot!" These songs were pretty distributed pretty evenly throughout the set and meshed with songs like "Tripoli" and "AFK" extremely well.
The visuals were a nice addition, as silhouettes of the band melted with pretty landscapes and handwritten lyrics. It was amusing at times, especially as the physical band looked pretty serious during "Good to Sea," but the official music video behind them showed Crow and Smith clowning around outside.
I asked a few folks what they thought of the show, and without exception, everyone said it was the best Pinback show they have seen in years. Some liked the intimacy of Crescent Ballroom and others enjoyed the sound. I'm still surprised by just how much Pinback's songs come to life at their concerts, and now I understand why the same fans keep returning year after year -- Pinback puts on a great show.
See the setlist and more photos on the next page:
Last Night: Pinback at Crescent Ballroom.
Personal Bias: I've been a fan ever since a friend played "Loro" for me. I remember buying Autumn of the Seraphs when it was first released.
The Crowd: Tall guys with glasses mouthing the lyrics. Overheard in the Crowd: "Someone's smoking good weed" during "A Request."
Rob Crow on the Kind of Star Wars Action Figures He Buys: "I still buy Star Wars toys, but I never buy Darth Vader toys or TIE fighters or anything like that. I'm all about the cool guys' stuff, the B-wings, X-wings, landspeeders, things of this nature, Luke Skywalker stuff. I'll go Boba Fett because he's rogue, but I love that there's heroes. Heroes go through a hero's quest and it comes out rad at the end. I admit, it would be nice to have a real hero. The prequels ruined so much of that. All it has to do with is midichlorian bullshit, who cares?"
Random Notebook Dump: All of these guys awkwardly swaying back and forth look like they're trying to slow dance with themselves.
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