Finicky Ears

The Big Pink/Crystal Antlers @ Detroit Bar – 11/20/09, Costa Mesa, CA

Posted in Live Reviews by finickyears on November 27, 2009

I purposely decided not to buy my ticket for The Big Pink in advance. Though I risked running into a sellout, the fact is that I never want to be at Detroit Bar during a sellout. I saw Deerhunter in these conditions a few months back and they simply do not have the space to accommodate large crowds. But when the crowd is moderate, like it was last Friday, Detroit Bar can be an excellent place to check out bands without having to go to L.A. But, even though the evening provided an intimate and enthusiastic showcase for a band playing only their second American show EVER, the crowd was ultimately reminded of the major drawback in playing a small room.

The Big Pink present themselves as a band much more experienced than their resume reads. Their debut album is only a couple of months old (the quite good A Brief History of Love), but already they feel obliged to bring strobe lights, smoke machines and lasers. And, indeed, in their brief existence they have opened for the likes of Muse and TV on the Radio in Europe. These tricks that most bands take a while to grow into fit The Big Pink perfectly, invoking both new wave and industrial influences that are readily apparent on record. However, one of the unfortunate things about this show was the emphasis on the crunching guitars and lack of strong synthesizer sound. This is one of the drawbacks of seeing this band in such a small room. Not only was synthesizer too low in the mix, but the use of live drums drowned out what little of it you could here. This is sad because this is the major appeal of The Big Pink.

The Big Pink did bring some pretty rad jams to the table, though. “Velvet” and “Dominos” (the show closer) were the clear fan favorites, but I was more impressed by two songs I hadn’t really paid much attention to previously. Album closer “Count Backwards from Ten” was a revelation with its slow and steady build and the suprising effectiveness of its “better off dead” chorus. And “Tonight” seemed like it should be this band’s most well know song. It actually benefited from the heavier guitars and found the band at its loosest and most fun.

And one brief note, who the hell was the guy who really wanted to hear “Dominos.” In fact, he wanted to hear it so badly that he felt the need to make really annoying sounds when the band got quiet and make obnoxious imitations of lead singer Robbie Furze. You, sir, are a tool and a main reason I want to see this band at a bigger venue, where assholes like you fade into the background.

All in all, a promising debut from a band that will be interesting to watch develop.

Here are The Big Pink’s videos for “Velvet” and “Dominos”

Crystal Antlers provided support. I had seen them before and was not a big fan, but I have to admit they have improved in the last year. But, they still seem pretty pedestrian (except for that pretty awesome bonus percussion dude) and cannot hold my interest for more than three songs. But I am not going to write these guys (and girl) off. It seemed like they were as big of a draw as The Big Pink, so really, what do I know?

Enjoy my photos from the show!

Visit The Big Pink here!

Visit Crystal Antlers here!

Purchase music from both of these bands at Insound!

I guess their first U.S. show wasn’t that great.

Visit The Detroit Bar here!