Pinback at Gothic Theatre, 01/27/13
PINBACK @ GOTHIC THEATRE | 01/27/13
So you're standing there on the floor of the Gothic, stroking your beard or dancing ever-so-subtly, watching Pinback play in equally subdued fashion. All around you and onstage, folks are so chill that you're wondering where they hid the bong. And then the guitarist suddenly breaks character and begins moonwalking across the stage. And the crowd goes wild.
This was one of the few unexpected moments from last night's show at the Gothic Theatre, which was otherwise something like a Pinback album. Two men with electric guitars and bass with a drummer playing metronome-perfect rock songs with jazz chords, featuring Zach Smith's inimitable style of strummed bass, with him switching vocal duties with guitarist Rob Crow. Every song was technically flawless, rarely speeding past 80 beats per minute.
The songs leading up to Crow's OMG-worthy breakdown followed the above mentioned formula. Beginning the set with lesser-known track "Victorious D" (from 2003's Offcell), Smith and Crow settled into a vibe that could favorably termed "slack emo," which is to say the duo borrows heavily from the weird lyricism and anti-rockstar guitar licks that made 1990s-2000s acts like Built to Spill and Joan of Arc so intriguing. With few exceptions, every song sounded like a crowd favorite. New tune "True North" and early track "Tripoli" followed, with the band backdropped by a massive video screen showing, alternately, B-grade 1960s sci-fi film clips and circa-1920s astronomy vids.
A funny thing happened around the fourth song. "Offline P.K.," the opening track to 2001's Blue Screen Life, got damn near everyone in this capacity crowd moving. Funny how one song can turn the audience around. Thing is, this kept happening whenever Smith and Crow would play songs from that album.
It was a seminal record for this genre, but still -- Blue Screen Life is a full twelve years old now, and Pinback's released some worthy material since. Old listening habits die hard though, I guess. Any time one of that record's songs came on, kids shuffled their feet more. To the extent that tunes from Blue Screen Life were hits, the crowd was there to hear them.