Pinback with Judgement Day @ The Depot 01.26

Posted January 29, 2013 in
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Pinback emits more energy than you would expect from a "mellow" band. Photo: Gavan Nelson

 Doped up on DayQuil and brandishing a blue handkerchief, I braved a sea of mucus and cough fits just to see the indie-icon band, Pinback. The Depot was packed—I stood alongside inter-generational hipsters, a few of my former college professors, appreciators of minimalist rock and a small band of flannel-bros, rising to the occasion despite the onslaught of snow, long lines and $7 beer.

Judgement Day, a “string metal” (FYI, too broad of a genre term) band from Oakland, walked onto the stage without any “walk-on applause,” so I mistook them as roadies for the opening band. Apparently Judgement Day came to Utah with Pinback in 2011, but I missed that show. They plugged in their instruments, namely a violin and a cello, and began to rock.
When they began to play, within the first eight bars, I thought to myself, “Great, not another fucking slightly more serious Yellow Card,” and then the time signature changed. From straight 4:4 missionary, these gentleman turned the song on its side and went at it with 5:4, and brought it back (see the song “The Treachery of Kyodia Ken”), bringing it to a personal level. I was a band geek in high school—still kind of am, I played bassoon—so I got to play with the orchestra quite a lot. If my conductor had brought something like this to band class, it would have blown my mind. The complexity and layers present, the use of hemiolas, ostinato and the moments where the music is smooth and haunting (or legato), sent my inner band geek was satiated during those moments. If you have a niece, cousin or you are in orchestra, seek these guys out, listen to at least the song “Cobra Strike,” and start up a band for Utah. We need this kind of rock. Bringing it back to Judgement Day, these gentleman fall somewhere between The Black Angels, Nicklecreek and Russian Circles with thrash. When their songs weren't drawn out and lasting, they were staccato, tight to the ear. Never once did I feel like the band was some sort of gimmick. They weren't trying to make it big because they're using atypical rock instruments—they seemed like they genuinely preferred the cello and violin over the bass and guitar. For a three-piece band, they know how to fill a room with sound and had no problem playing a well-rounded set of thrashy, psychedelic rock. 
When I wasn't fully paying attention to the band, I was watching the screen behind the band as it played videos in relation to the music. Most of it seemed to be bits and pieces of old films, PSAs and foreign news reels, but filtered with a sort of psychedelic flair. They weren't enriching, but they were visually appealing. If you've ever been to a Bright Eyes show or any arena rock band, you'll know what I'm talking about. They have most of these videos up on their website, They ended the show with a doom metal-ish piece (it may have been “Genosha”), thanked the crowd and joined the audience.
After Judgement Day walked off, Rob Crow and Zach Hill walked on staged shortly after (like, less than 10 minutes) and the crowd lit up. To some, there stood the band that helped them through a breakup, the band that, seven years earlier, they listened to for six hours in their broken down Ford Taurus in front of Boondocks while the tow truck “was just around the corner.” I know that my inner 17-year-old Alex had a semi in his boxers when they opened with “Tripoli,” or at least in my DayQuil haze he did. The rubber-band bass lines and simplistic guitar skimming over the sweet, dream pop vocals—you have to appreciate how Hill is able to make a bass sound like a guitar and not get tired being high up on the neck all night. Contrary to what all my friends have said about Pinback performances, they moved quite a lot for mellow band. Hell, at one point, Crow did the worm onstage. Whether that was improvised or planned, I don't care. It's not every day you see a large man in his early 40s attempt the worm. He did alright.
My favorite moment of the night, probably everyone's favorite part, was when they played “Loro,” a song that is devoid of any meaning (I've heard several explanations), with its heavy, melodic bassline, the harmony and the very audience-friendly “do do do do”s. What does 49531 mean? Who gives a shit? By this part of the show, Crow was well on to his third or fourth New Castle, and I was DayQuil-peaking, if there is such a thing. The band played the song “Penelope,” a song about a goldfish, but the lyrics and musicality transcends that simple explanation—it’s much more electronic than most of their earlier work, with some playful organ in the background.
Like Judgement Day, Pinback had a visual aid to their music, all of them playful. There was one that caught my interest—a mash-up of clips from the movie Darkstar, a sci-fi film by John Carpenter and an inspiration for the band, coupled with a clips from another film. In Darkstar were clips on being inside a spaceship, and the other film depicted blonde mermaids stoning a crab to death on the beach, some premium art student material. The band exited the stage and reentered the stage, I assume after Crow had chugged his next New Castle backstage.
The band, who was mostly quiet between songs, thanked Utah for braving the weather, praised the front audience area for their “great mosh pit” (why would you mosh to Pinback?) and played a nice mix from Autumn of the Seraphs and their new album, Information Retrieved. During the last song of the encore, the band became more playful. Crow encouraged the audience to throw some clothes onstage and that he would wear them. He got a shirt and pants and wore both of them as capes.
Check out more exclusive photos of this show here!
Pinback emits more energy than you would expect from a "mellow" band. Photo: Gavan Nelson Judgement Day brothers Anton and Lewis transition flawlessly from heavy metal riffs to melodic string sections. Photo: Gavan Nelson