Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pinback with Obits

Black Cat
Washington, DC
October 28, 2009

Obits, hailing from New York City, did the honors of warming up the crowd for Pinback on Wednesday night at the Black Cat. A quick glance at the merch booth gave me all the information I needed to perk my interest in the band as I discovered they’re on the Sub Pop label, who’s ever growing list of artists is legendary to say the least. While tuning his guitar, vocalist/guitarist Rick Froberg casually asked the crowd if anyone knew the score of the World Series before he and the rest of the band launched into their set. From then on, Obits, which also includes guitarist Sohrab Habibion, bassist Greg Simpson and drummer Scott Gursky, were all business.

Obits’ sound is like listening to a garage rock band with Dick Dale playing guitar. The blending of the surf guitar style with their noisy punk rock was both fun and original. The kids down front didn’t seem to mind that the guys in the band are more than likely hovering around their parent’s age, as they bobbed their heads along to songs from Obits’ recently released debut album "I Blame You". There were no gimmicks to be found here, even when Gursky used a maraca as a drumstick. This is no frills rock n’ roll my friends, the kind that’s easy to move to, even if you’ve never heard any of it before.

Pinback are one of those bands whose pop songs take root in your head and they’re just impossible to get them out. If you enjoy listening to their music, then you’d enjoy listening to them play live because they sound great. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much else to say about the Pinback live experience. The San Diego side project turned focus of Rob Crow and Armistead Burwell Smith IV (Zach) consists of four multi-instrumentalists and a drummer onstage and that’s about all you need to know. The guys swap out playing guitar, bass and keyboards (they literally have four keyboards onstage!) throughout the set and all of them provide vocals, although Rob and Zach handle the majority of the singing.

The set did have a bit of an art-house vibe to it as each song was accompanied by a homemade video, which was being broadcast on a screen behind the band. Of course it’s always fun too, to see how many beers Crow will consume throughout the course of one performance (I counted six tonight…not counting the one he was drinking while inconspicuously watching from among the crowd as Obits played). Make no mistake, I love Pinback and I’ll be back to see them again, but Rob is a shy front man and Zach doesn’t really do much to step up in that department either. With these guys, it’s all about whether or not you dig the music…and I certainly do!

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