The Irenic, a church in North Park, hosts a lovely venue for rock shows that aren't necessarily Christian, like last Thursday's Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Ariel came up on stage with his hair dyed bleached blond immediately shooed away the crowd that was too close and taking up space on the ground stage, which he later used to perform on.

His performance turned out to be highly intriguing and I witnessed people enraptured as if they hadn't seen anything so mysteriously entertaining in a while. There is something innocent about Ariel, as if he has no choice but to obey his muse, and at the same time he strikes one as a person who is highly experimental in life and performance, a modern day Artaud, as he practically swallows the mic at certain points in the show, whistles, makes chirping noises, and yet somehow sounds great doing it.

The band seems to be having a great time and have grown tight in the last couple years. Tim Koh's Bass playing is a complexity of interesting maneuvers that add a lot rhythmically without cramping Ariel's style. Everyone else is playing great and seem thankful to be in a band that is masterfully led. Ariel's occasional high pitched vocals add a warmth to his otherwise sometimes rough around the edge verses and oftentimes the show feels like a well directed experiment.

In "Symphony of the Nymph", he sings about being a lesbian and among other things, and than goes into a reworking of the Beatle's "Love me do" as well as blurting out, "my name is Ariel, and I'm a nympho," as well as even referring to his a certain Dr. Mario, who happens to be his dad. Pretty strange but interesting stuff.

In the beginning of the show the band played an earlier tune called "Hardcore pops are fun." The lyrics "my music is good" sounds naively confident but you start believing that indeed, as Ariel is running into the crowd, holding his setlist and snatching it back aggressively from someone who tried to take it from him, that yeah it does sound good.

Even when the lyrics aren't completely decipherable, Ariel's performance is so different and strange it's a spectacle worth seeing. It's avant garde yet catchy at the same time.


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