Pinback at Gothic Theatre, 01/27/13
Darkness then ensued, however. New track "Diminished," from last year's Information Retrieved, featured lines like, "Don't feel so worthless." At times, Smith and Crow -- both mid-range vocalists -- sounded as if they were straining a little to hit higher notes. The guys played effortlessly, but they did not sing or look onstage like a team of road dogs.
Which might explain why Crow did something else so unexpected halfway through the gig. Right after playing a song, the guitarist, who had theretofore engaged in zero onstage banter, said simply, "I have to go pee." Totally out of nowhere. Then he walked off the stage, presumably headed for the men's room.
Smith, bemused, thought to entertain the few hundred people in attendance with a song from his side project, Systems Officer. He played "Signature Red," a dead ringer for a Pinback tune, and, three or four minutes later, Crow rejoined him onstage and apologized. (Granted, by this time he had consumed maybe half a dozen Newcastles on stage). There were still more antics. At the beginning of Blue Screen Life standout "Boo," Crow shouted into his guitar pickups, making a scratchy, old-time radio sound.
Then the true weirdness began. "Fortress", from 2004's Summer in Abaddon, was the closest thing to disco that fans were likely to hear last night. Crow dropped his guitar, moonwalked, did the inchworm (!!!) and then hopped his girthy ass down into the crowd and walked through the audience.
In an especially ambitious feat, he attempted to walk to the upstairs balcony, but the mike cord wouldn't reach that far. Near the end of the song, he asked fans to hold the mike for him as he ran through a side door to the stage and retrieved it.
"Thank you guys so fuckin much!" he shouted right before leaving the stage soon after, marking the end of the show. And then, in what must be the longest, most awkward encore-baiting absence I've seen in a long time, Pinback returned for another four songs.
Personal Bias: Count me among the fans who were only there to hear songs from Blue Screen Life and Autumn of the Seraphs. "Good to Sea" is good stuff indeed.
Random Note: Who the hell was the Mardi Gras-beaded Dancing Queen in the crowd last night? I know Fat Tuesday's not for a couple weeks, but damn, girl -- this ain't a disco.
By the Way: Rob Crow likes scary music.