Concert review: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Kings Arms (+photos)

By Chris Cudby

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An immediate point of interest was Pink's ridiculous new Slade-like hairstyle, which made him look even more goblin-like than usual. Photo / Milana Radojcic
An immediate point of interest was Pink's ridiculous new Slade-like hairstyle, which made him look even more goblin-like than usual. Photo / Milana Radojcic

After successfully navigating through Auckland's bizarro public transport system (55 minute wait for a bus on New North Road!) I made it to the Kings Arms in time to catch the tail end of local favorites Poor You Poor Me - a six-piece tangle of guitar, bass, drums and fiddle.

Fronted by Rackets' Oscar Davies-Kay, Poor You Poor Me produced a commendable wall of sound with dive-bombing melody lines and an energetic sensibility somewhere between punk-pop and folk - a fitting warmup for the genre-melting acts to follow.

The crowd was humming in anticipation for Geneva Jacuzzi, with fans packed close to catch a glimpse of the US pop-video goddess.

She didn't disappoint, running through a choice selection of her most popular tunes, singing into her headset mic and dancing semi-choreographed dance moves in front of a projection while dressed like some kind of gothic mime.

The volume of the backing tracks was set to a puzzlingly low level but that couldn't contain the cosmic energies radiating from Jacuzzi's ritualistic stage performance. With her monochromatic, heavily tassled stage getup Jacuzzi gave off an almost Klaus Nomi vibe, cackling like a German performance artist along with her catchy-as-f**k synth-pop tunes. An unforgettable show.

Ariel Pink hit the stage with his group almost immediately breaking into what seemed to be new material (Pink started the first number singing directly from a lyric sheet).

An immediate point of interest was Pink's ridiculous new Slade-like hairstyle, which made him look even more goblin-like than usual.

Another point was how incredibly prog-rock Pink's songs actually are in a live setting.

When removed from their home-recorded, beat-boxed context they seem almost stadium-like in their epic-ness - especially evident in the newer material where unfamiliar ears had to play tag with Pink's unpredictable, stuttering pop structures.

There were a fair amount of older tunes on offer though, sprinkled with a generous selection of recent hits from Before Today, drawing a warm reception from the grinning, dancing punters. Particular favourites were the Worn Copy material (One On One, Life In LA) and the sonic swoon of his Doledrums songs also adapted well to the stage.

A pretty cool aspect to the show was that there didn't seem to be too much overlap with Pink's Laneway performance last year, meaning they complimented each other nicely.

Pink's Haunted Graffiti group gave off a noodly, relaxed barroom vibe, like encountering the Mothers Of Invention playing in a dive bar.

They ended up playing two encores, with Jacuzzi joining Pink on stage for vox, but the delighted crowd could have easily lapped up more - an excellent night was had by all.

Who: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti with Geneva Jacuzzi and Poor You Poor Me
Where: Kings Arms, Auckland
When: Tuesday, March 13

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