By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Pinback are Smith and fellow multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rob Crow, fleshed out live by three touring musicians who also casually switch roles. These San Diego indie darlings are all about sparse, intertwining arpeggios and pulsing chords, twin voices cracking and reaching above Casio grooves and lamenting keys, pearls of love and seas of loss. Their slacker anti-image istheir image: Pinback are that quiet, bearded guy from your office I.T. department who listens to early Floyd and Eno, pines after pallid girls, and hides hash pipes from his mother.
The beauty of lo-fi acts like this is that they can faithfully reproduce their barely embellished recorded expressions live. "Non Photo-Blue" lovingly references that part of ’80s pop unplundered by the NYC skinny-tie brigade: the Police, Squeeze, Crowded House, Split Enz. This year’s breakthrough single, "Fortress," retains a NyQuil-vague, written-in-rain regret on either side of its yapping, bass-meshed new-wave chorus.
Like Grandaddy and recent Radiohead, Pinback are a creeping life form, an unspoken friendship that’ll inhabit your stereo without conscious decision or formal invite, ’80s post-punk simplicity rinsed in endless-summer romance and moments-before-sleep psychedelia. They charmingly break rock’s totemic codes (bass — and even twin basses — are often used for polyphonic melody), avoiding the yawning chasm of snore-core with perky arrangements and seemingly inevitable melodies. Pinback are the unlikely aphrodisiac of a whispered confession — baby, talk nerdy to me.
KIIS-FM’S JINGLE BALL
at the Arrowhead Pond, December 3
With all the teenage girls running around, it really felt like I was back in junior high. The first two acts — JoJo singing her hit "Leave (Get Out)," then Christina Milian doing "Dip It Low" — were perfect for these cotton-candy surroundings.
When Maroon 5 came on, it felt like the real concert had begun. The quintet cranked out "This Love" and "She Will Be Loved," and got political on the John Lennon cover "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)." Marilyn Manson . . . errrr, Ashlee Simpson followed. Don’t know what style she was going for with her goth outfit and Mick Jagger moves, but the lyrics to "Pieces of Me" said it all: "I am moody, messy/I get restless, and it’s senseless." Alicia Keys, pimped out in black rhinestoned fedora with matching cane, started out funky with "Karma" and "Heartburn," then slowed up on "You Don’t Know My Name" and "My Boo," asking in the latter, "Should I tell Usher you said what’s up?" Keys showed her versatility on "If I Ain’t Got You," sweatin’ on the piano with real soul. Avril Lavigne’s youthful hard-rock sounds on "My Happy Ending," "Nobody’s Home" and "Sk8er Boy" made the little ones around me very happy.
Surprise package: local girl Gwen Stefani. In hair bow, vest, and shorts over leggings, like Madonna during Desperately Seeking Susandays, she looked exhausted as she sang her new "What You Waiting For?" and then, enlisting a backup drum corps, triedto show her rapping skills on "I Ain’t No Holla’ Back Girl." The real rapper, Snoop D-O-double-G, showed up wearing his favorite color: a blue bandanna draped from his back left pocket, blue laces on his white Chucks. With a live band at his side — including sidekick "June Bug," who can really dance, and Dogg Pound gangsta Daz — Snoop busted out some old shit: "Who Am I (What’s My Name?)," "Tha Shiznit," "Ain’t Nothin’ but a G Thang." "I know y’all like eggnog," he proclaimed, "but my favorite drink is . . ." Handed a tall glass, he kicked into "Gin and Juice." Pharrell Williams, with his ice-cube earrings and Ice Cream sneakers, took the microphone on "Beautiful" and "Drop It Like It’s Hot," inciting the young ones to chant along in a "Snoooop" frenzy. As the crowd exited, Snoop returned to announce "the seventh wonder of the world, Mr. Stevie Wonder!" Stevie started to sing "This Christmas," but the young listeners were long gone. A shame; perhaps it was bedtime.