Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pinback at Echoplex - October 20, 2008

Monday night (October 20) I was off to the Echoplex to see Pinback and once again I was reassured that they are my favorite band for very solid reasons. This was the eighth time I've seen them and I'm beginning to envy myself.

Their music speaks to me in so many different ways. The melodies that swirl around in my head, always jumping ahead of my expectations and increasing in scope and range. Lyrics that are cryptic and elliptic enough to keep the synapses working overtime.

They've written phrases that jump out and have stuck in my brain...for years even. Like the explanation of having talent, "It's just a thing that I carry around", or a dreamy, private expression of love, "Safe as a cootie-wootie with you". Or the lyric that confuses and intrigues, like, "It's up to the trees with the firestorm" from "June".

I love the thoughtful, disturbing quality of that song. As Rob Crow succinctly put it during the show, "Here's another bright, uplifting song from Pinback". But it's just that combination of lilting melody with a strong undercurrent of melancholy that is usually found in my favorite kind of music.

They claim to be just normal folks, but they write with a wisdom and insight that allows them to say simply what one can work years to figure out. I am in awe of their gifts.

What really strikes me after these two recent shows is the growth in their vocal work. Zack Smith's voice is becoming so steady and assured he's now equal to Rob Crow in vocal performance strength. You hear some of the finest blending and sliding and weaving of the two vocal strands that together reach such sublime beauty. It's embarrassing to admit the number of times their concert performances move me to tears. I just crumble in the presence of the perfect juxtaposition of art and beauty.

I can use their music to transport myself almost anywhere I need to go. It can raise my spirits, make me happy and upbeat, make me sad and thoughtful, stimulate and excite me, even lower my blood pressure. Somehow they allow me to see that there is more than one way to approach a challenge. Maybe they're clairvoyant, or just magician/musicians.

They played over 20 songs from throughout their history, each one performed to perfection for an adoring crowd. This was one of the best West Coast audiences I've seen for them, so far, and the Echoplex was a great venue for them.

In a pensive moment Rob said, acknowledging his agnostic side, that since there is no afterlife, one should enjoy the life you have, and that the most important thing a human can learn is how to be kind to others. It was kind of a surprising, genuine statement from one who can be seen as a bit sarcastic at times. But it was a message I've long subscribed to and I was happy to see Rob embrace it.

I think this has been a difficult and emotional tour for them because their good friend and usual keyboard accompanist Terrin Durfey is battling a recurrence of cancer and they're understandably upset. But it's led to some heartfelt moments during this and the Boston show I saw and it's helped me see another side of them. They're committed to this tour to support the Terrin Durfey Fund to help his family cover their medical expenses and I urge anyone who can afford it to please contribute to the Terrin Durfey Fundraiser donations (here).

Opening band was Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects, Pall Jenkens' upbeat, irreverent, more rocking alternative to The Black Heart Procession. I am an enormous fan of The Black Heart Procession, but Pall and company are such talented musicians, I enjoy Mr. Tube almost as much. This was the third time I've seen them and they play such tight, funky, bluesy rock and roll fronted by the extraordinary vocals of Mr. Jenkens they always get the crowd moving.

By the time Pinback finished "June" to wrap up the evening, it was only 11:45 and I knew Death To Anders were at the Echo, upstairs, going on at midnight. I would have gone to that show were it not for the show downstairs because the lineup, also including Rademacher, Le Switch and All Smiles is pretty great. I was so keyed up from Pinback I needed more music, so up I went.

Great move because I got to see a lot of people I missed while in Boston, Kevin Bronson, Elaine Layabout, Hunter Costeau, Sarah Negahdari, Rob Danson, Nick Ceglio, Christian Biel. It was a great welcome home and, by the way, Death To Anders played one of the best sets I've yet seen from them. Really tight, razor sharp playing and fine singing from Rob and Nick. They only played about 6 songs, but it was the perfect capper to a superb evening.


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