Thursday, January 29, 2015
Fringe World has once again transformed The Bakery into its annual exclusive Fringe artists’ club, The Budgie Smuggler, presumably for the last time, since The Bakery’s doors will be closing early May. But The Bakery and Fringe have made sure these last few hurrahs are something to remember it by, procuring talent from around the world so crowds can say a fond farewell to this much-beloved music and arts venue. American purveyor of kooky eclectic retro, Ariel Pink, finished up his Australian tour down at The Budgie Smuggler on Thursday night, supported by an even kookier one-man set by Pond’s Nick Allbrook.
Things got off to a late start on the night, with Allbrook taking the stage about half an hour behind schedule. Looking like something Nancy Spungen dragged in, Allbrook set off on a warbly gander around some tracks from his recently released solo album Ganough, Wallis & Fatuna. Far from setting the crowd alight, his wiry and gangly renditions of something resembling songs seemed to please a few dedicated fans down front who managed to sing along. His drowsy, noisy psych sounds were stitched together with a lo-fi sensibility that should have made him a good choice to prep the crowd for Ariel Pink, but which ultimately proved an indifferent part of the night.
Perhaps this indifference rubbed off on Ariel Pink, because he and his band had an underwhelming start with their first couple of tracks, but it wasn’t long until the seven-piece turned things up a notch and rolled through some of the best material from his latest release, pom pom. Hiding behind a pair of round white spectacles and looking like Kurt Cobain incarnate, Pink stood next to a pedestal fan, giving him an air of wind-swept Beyonce fabulousness. He and his drummer took turns singing throughout the night, which was fine because their voices are somehow indistinguishable, and I supposed that’s one way to make sure nobody taxes their vocal cords to excess over the length of a tour. Black Ballerina definitely struck a major chord with the audience, as did Put Your Number In My Phone, but sadly, Nude Beach a Go-Go was nowhere to be found.
You could hear LA in every note and reference, and it’s easy to see why Pink’s music has found favour amongst the Perth indie set, with his heterogeneous, sunny and mildly mad brand of ’80s throwback. With seven people and maybe twice as many instruments crammed on the small Bakery stage, I wondered if we would have seen a somewhat less restrained Ariel Pink if he’d had somewhere to move. And I waited the entire hour for him to sing into the fan, as any normal person would have been tempted to do, but he was even restrained in that regard. Nonetheless, it was a satisfying night with Ariel Marcus Rosenberg and his band that he “picked up at Home Depot,” and we got the chance to see them at The Bakery before they “burn the place down and turn it into apartments,” as Mr. Pink predicted.