Pinback | 03.21.13

live pinback_75Some bands rely on shenanigans to cover up musical inefficiencies, but Pinback’s musical complexities and technical proficiency were very clear.


Firebird, St. Louis

Walking in to a venue with a sparse crowd for a show you’re extremely excited about can be a bit discouraging. As show time drew nearer, though, the crowd grew in numbers and anticipation started to come to the surface, from the diehard Pinback fans to the fledgling concert-goer. The show started promptly at 9:30 p.m. Pinback’s Rob Crow pressed a button on stage, a hokey TV show–like theme played over the speakers, and a public access like “show” started to play on the projector screen hanging above the drum set. The crowd was entranced and quickly came in toward the stage in wide-eyed awe as one-man act JP Incorporated (formerly Pleaseeasuar) took the stage with gusto. With a wig and beard as corny as his shtick, JP Inc. was comprised of faux TV shows and commercials, and informed the crowd that their response would determine whether they’d play on TV or not. Each show and commercial featured an absolutely ridiculous plot, and a ludicrous song to boot. Shows featuring monster trucks transformed into sweet, saxophone-fueled jazz machines, a reality-type show involving a fake rock band called Crap Factory, and a commercial for your favorite limousine service: No Prob Limo. JP Incorporated brought Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! to life, set it in a venue to encourage crowd response, and made it more musically agreeable while remaining delightfully absurd.

As JP Incorporated left the stage, the crowd began to buzz and continued to grow. Pinback didn’t keep their adoring fans in the dark for long, though, and complimented the town. “St. Louis is such a beautiful city. You guys have a big university here, right? DeVry,” said Rob Crow matter-of-factly. The audience could barely finish laughing before Pinback opened with a tune from their 2003 Offcell EP, “Victorious D.” Bass heavy and full of Jameson, they then rewarded the crowd with “True North” from their latest album, Information Retrieved. It was apparent from the beginning that the San Diego duo would be treating the audience to a great mix of material, both old and new.

Not to be outdone by their opener, Pinback also had visuals displayed on the projection screen: classic science-fiction films that have inspired them, stock footage of biological curiosities, Venus fly traps, toys, even some lyrics that synched up with the songs as they sang. Perhaps the most interesting thing shown on screen that night was a fan video that went along to their 2007 single from Autumn of the Seraphs, “Good to Sea.” The sped up version of the tune got the crowd thrashing and head-bobbing uncontrollably. Of course, the crowd was tame compared to frontman Rob Crow’s antics. Not only did Crow pour his soul out as he sang, but he also joined the crowd (along with his microphone cord), stood on top of the Firebird’s merch bar while singing (and pointing to various shirts hung on the wall), and at one point did the worm across the tiny stage. Some bands rely on shenanigans to cover up musical inefficiencies, but Pinback need not rely on Crow’s exuberance—their musical complexities and technical proficiency were very clear.

Bassist Zach Smith is more than a driving and repetitive portion of a rhythm section. Smith puts classically trained musicians to shame as he strums chords on his bass and adds layers to the band that other, bigger groups could only hope to reproduce. In what could have been the most beautiful and jarring moments of the show, Smith sat down at a keyboard to lead another new song, “Diminished.” The simple jazz-tinged song and its intricacies took the crowd by surprise, providing an almost out-of-body experience as Crow’s lyrics soared above everyone, asking “Should it be so hard to have a nice day?” Bodies quickly went back into thrash mode, though, as the audience was treated to other older tunes like “Fortress” and closer “From Nothing to Nowhere.” With an adequate balance of both new and old, Pinback left the crowd satisfied and in anticipation for their next swing through the Midwest. | Jenn Metzler

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