Let Me Entertain You: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti & Os Mutantes @ Trocadero 11.12.10

I don’t think I’d be out of line in asserting that Ariel Pink is indie pop’s Andy Kaufman. It’s often hard to tell where his shtick begins and ends, but his oddball behavior clearly stems from a very clever mind. His main creative giveaway is his music, which has been a favorite of insiders for years before reaching the masses with Before Today. Once the name of a series of home demo tapes, Haunted Graffiti has blossomed to be Pink’s full-on band; a band that brings new life into the more abrasive older material. At his biggest area gig to date, Pink did not disappoint on either the musical or strangeness fronts. First was Pink’s ratty blue wig which, despite his constant adjustments, hardly covered up all of Pink’s own unkempt Barbie doll hair. Partway through the performance, Pink strapped on a guitar that, upon closer inspection, wasn’t plugged into anything. He wasn’t fooling anybody and he was fooling everybody, all at the same time.

With an opening splash of “Beverly Kills,” the show was underway. The quintet version of Haunted Graffiti bounces between overdriven guitars and swirling keyboards, each fitting into a different part of Pink’s musical history. Older songs like “Getting High In The Morning” and “Hardcore Pops Are Fun” came as pleasant surprises in Before Today-dominated set. The glamorous, harmony-heavy “Round And Round” really got the crowd excited, as did their rendition of the Rockin’ Ramrods’ 1966 nugget, “Bright Lit Blue Skies.” Just like Before Today’s accessible eccentricities, Ariel Pink’s performance satisfies newcomers and seasoned fans alike.

When a band isn’t around for 35 years, you wouldn’t expect to see them in concert, and you certainly wouldn’t expect to see them twice in a little over a year. Despite all logic, Os Mutantes returned (again) to bring their progressive tropicalia to even more freaked out Philadelphians. From what I could tell, the newest incarnation of the band is an experiment in flux. As he has been for the entirety of this resurrection, Sergio Diaz is front and center as the lone original member. Don’t discount the players as mere backup musicians, though, as several share writing credits on the new batch of songs. From what I could tell, their setlist was about the same as the one from their World Café Live show last October, with a selection of songs from Haih… Or Amortecedor… sandwiched between blocks of original run favorites.

Diaz and the band have got this thing down. Though I knew what to expect, Os Mutantes’ spectacle remains captivating. Diaz is one hell of a guitar player, and the multi-instrumentalists that flanked the stage kept pace with him effortlessly. Songs from Jardim Elétrico, aside from being plentiful in the set, proved particularly challenging to play, even for Diaz. After straightening things out, “Top Top,” “Tecnicolor,” “El Justiciero” and that album’s title track were highlights, as was the band’s signature tune, “A Minha Menina.” Decked in their trademark robes, Os Mutantes were very obviously having a great time. That’s the telltale sign of a great performance, no matter how long your band has been together (or apart).

Click the pictures in this post to see more pictures of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and Os Mutantes in concert!!

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~ by E. on November 15, 2010.

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