The sweltering, nearly stifling heat. The glitter. The boisterous, restless, unrestrained energy- a daunting sort of energy that loomed in the air that could be felt throughout the crowd because we knew we were on the edge of something. We were anxious, we were waiting, waiting to experience something that we were sure would satiate our anxious bodies and would leave us captivated, but we weren’t quite sure what. Would it be a playfully rapturous daydream? Would we all be left swaying, our arms and hands in the air, eyes fixed on Ariel and gazing until the morning? We were beside ourselves. Not to mention prior to Ariel and his Haunted Graffiti officially taking to the stage, glittery glimpses of Ariel could be seen off stage. At one point he handed the bassist of Puro Instinct a glass of water. In another flash you could see Ariel off to the side dancing frantically like a 5 year old that could not be contained and simply would not go to bed. He could feel our energy- all in a tizzy and suspenseful! At another point he grabbed the microphone and sang along with them during their last song sending the crowd into an eager frenzy.
Puro Instinct exits, the screen falls from the ceiling and we’re left again with old movies in infrared and negatives courtesy of Irving Plaza. Not enough. We wanted Ariel. The mere hint of Ariel was enough to send us dancing in place and grinning watching Ariel as he set up behind the screen.
Out comes R. Stevie Moore (how appropriate!) and that’s when the magic hits. That’s when our eager frenzy turns into an altered state of excitement and wonder. It’s a parade! Stevie is smoking a cigarette, banging on a tambourine and Ariel follows behind. He’s covered in a halo of light and face paint, his hair sticking to his face from sweat- just the way you want to see Ariel make an entrance! We wouldn’t have been satisfied any other way. The band moves into “Hot Body Rub” and we were gone. Exalted. We were strapped into our seatbelts so to speak. We were going for a ride. Ariel’s interaction with the crowd at certain points was intimate. Though never addressing the crowd fully, there were points when he was teetering dangerously close to the edge of the stage, and in those moments, the illumination of the lights paired with the shimmery gold of his top made me think of a distorted dysfunctional rock n’ roll Jesus. There were moments when Ariel was close enough to touch, adorable moments such as the moment shared between him and Stevie under an umbrella, a moment of visible annoyance with Ariel’s hands waving wildly in the air to “turn the volume up” at the sound guys overhead, and moments such as during the encore of “For Kate I Wait” when the stage turned into a merry mayhem similar to something you’d find in the evening hours of a family reunion; Stevie laying on the stage, shaking his tambourine and smoking a cigarette while one of the members of Puro Instinct banged the tambourine against his side. Eventually Stevie handed his purple hat off to Ariel which he wore throughout “For Kate I Wait”. These were personal and real moments, however disorderly I couldn’t help if those moments were his gifts the fans,as if he was silently sharing something with us alone. I’d like to think he was.
No one need be afraid of Ariel losing his authenticity since his signing with 4AD. He’s in good hands as has not lost his essence. The fear of the fan is always that once “their” gem gets too big they’ll lose their flavor. Ariel is still a fanciful and eccentric clutter of chaos on stage. Stumbling and tipsy from the music, you can feel his raw purity; the earnest in his lo-fi home recordings can still be felt. Ariel’s soul hasn’t gone anywhere- it is apparent that he simply wants to share his experience with you. It’s a beautiful mess. It’s the kind of mess that you’ve always wanted to emerge from the walls of your bedroom as you listen to any one of his albums. To see it unfold in front of you, billowing and whimsical is an experience I cannot properly describe except to say that is something close to magic and something close to mayhem; perhaps even astral. Ariel took us for a ride that was not of the world.
I always imagine Ariel sitting on a brown shag rug with wood paneling, indian style with a microphone in his hand, pushing keys, pressing buttons, fiddling with the volume. He’s sitting in the living room. Maybe there’s a green sofa, dented and worn. Maybe there’s a glass on a round glass table gathering condensation. Just alongside him is a sliding patio door and he’s got it wedged open just a bit to let the air flow through. There’s a pool, neglected and full of leaves. And it’s just Ariel and his stack of cassettes and his homemade sound having a musical freakout. That very same mix of nostalgia, mixed with effervescent joy was exactly what we got. Hot, sticky, beguiled- we left enchanted.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti/Beverly Kills
♫ ♥ ditte