Real Live Action

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

with Magic Kids & Puro Instinct, July 14 @ Biltmore Cabaret

Review and VIdeo By Duncan McHugh

Ariel Pink, photo by Steve Louie
Ariel Pink, photo by Steve Louie


This was a weird one. I was anticipating this show for a while, and looking forward to all three bands. The crowd though was a bit, uh, rambunctious, and while I enjoyed all of the bands, people that I chatted with at the show were all over the place, some loving it and others hating it. Like I said, weird night.

LA’s Puro Instinct, formerly Pearl Harbor, opened things up with their sleepy Californian pop. Led by sisters Piper and Sky Kaplan, 22 and 15 respectively, they made a splash last year with the gorgeous, jangly tune “Luv Goon.” At the merch table, I asked them why they changed their name and they said they just wanted to. Okay. Their newer songs have the same sighing vocal delivery and dream pop guitars. Maybe a little out-of-place in a hot and sweaty basement, but I appreciated it, as did Ariel Pink who joined the band for a couple of songs.

Memphis sextet Magic Kids were up next and they look like they might have arrived in an overstuffed woodie station wagon. Sporting beachwear and an impressive 32 strings on stage, they picked up the pace with a lively set. They had multi-part harmonies and some call-and-response choruses, all with a surfy edge. Fun music.

I hadn’t seen Ariel Pink before and don’t know his back catalogue that well, but his new album, Before Today, is incredible. I’d heard he had a reputation for being a temperamental performer, prone to tantrums on stage. But he did well with the crowd, taking a step aside and carrying on with the song when one girl did a header into the keyboard stand. There was a bouncer on the stage the rest of the night.

It was a fun set, and I enjoyed it until after about an hour. Ariel Pink has assembled a great band to back him up, and they do a fantastic job performing his wonky grooves, but after a while I wasn’t that interested anymore. At that point, what held my interest was a kid, crowdsurfing and hoisted high, who began tapping out the beat of the song on the ceiling tiles with his sneakers. I haven’t seen that before.