Gig Review: Pinback @ The Corner Hotel, 21st August

Playing to an under-capacity crowd on a Sunday night cannot be an easy thing to do. But, for Pinback’s recent show at the Corner Hotel, what the crowd lacked in size they made up for with enthusiasm, obvious love for the band, and appreciation of good music. Combined with Pinback’s unique take on rock music, this made for a very enjoyable and very memorable gig.

Opening track Tres eased the crowd into the experience. as Rob Crow’s surprisingly smooth vocals washed over the crowd with the chant of “It’s alright now, come closer”. Bloods On Fire saw multi-instrumentalist Zach Smith emerge from behind the keyboard to don his bass to spectacular effect. Playing as a trio with drummer Chris Prescott, Pinback were inevitably a bit reliant on pre-recorded elements, but they still created a staggeringly full and satisfying sound.

Good To Sea was predictably one of the highlights of the show, as the crowd got moving around a bit and a singalong threatened to materialise. It’s such a breezy, catchy, inexplicably hypnotising song, and it was underpinned by a fantastic clip projecting in the background of the stage, as was much of the music throughout the night. The lack of How To Breathe (which traditionally follows Good To Sea) was slightly disappointing, but really a small complaint given the epic set that Pinback would go on to play.

New track Sherman was greeted with warm applause by the diehards in the crowd, and was introduced by Rob as being “Great, because we haven’t played it a million times before”. To their credit however Pinback’s show never seemed routine, despite how long they have been playing together as an outfit. Fortress saw Rob jump into the crowd to get a bit of a mosh started, and fan favourite Boo gave him a chance to use the effects mic set up on stage, and his distanced voice made for a very surreal feeling indeed, especially coupled with the wistful video playing in the background. 

The strength of Pinback’s live show lies in the interplay between Rob and Zach, who shared lead vocals throughout the night. Their voices were somehow both very similar and starkly contrasting, and the songs that saw them harmonising for extended periods of time were true highlights of the night. The contrast between the two musicians was emphasised by their choice of beverages on stage: while Rob got through a beer every couple of songs, Zach sipped from a cup of tea in between tracks. No doubt as a product of playing together for so many years, Zach and Rob shared the role of frontman perfectly.

This being said, Rob was left with banter duties, and didn’t seem too thrilled about it. While his stage talk was initially endearingly terrible, as the night progressed so did the hilarity of the band’s interaction with the crowd, highlighted by Rob’s discussions with a group of punters who were travelling around Australia to make it to as many Pinback shows as possible. After not being able to agree on a song request, the dedicated fans in the crowd simply yelled out: “Just play whatever man, we’ll love it anyway”. 

Regardless, Pinback were determined to let their music do the talking. They simply ripped through their set, playing a massive 23 songs with minimal downtime. When they left the stage with the cry of “Thank you so fucking much” they had already played for over an hour, and as it turns out the encore turned into something of an epic as the band constructed it from a combination of requests from the crowd and tracks they hadn’t played live throughout the rest of their Australian tour, such as Shag and Chaos Engine.

By the time they left the stage for good, Pinback had played for nearly two hours. It had been a set infused with energy, passion, and above all else undeniable talent the likes of which isn’t seen in too much other comparable music going around at the moment. Pinback are absolute masters of their style. Just what exactly that style is however is still up for debate. 

Pinback’s music is not be designed to sell out large venues or get BNM’ed. Theirs is subtle, nuanced, unassuming music that is powerful, bizarre, fun, and moving in a way all its own. Just like with their recorded music, Pinback do things their own way when they play live, and this created for an enthralling and captivating show for those lucky enough to witness it.

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