After a nondescript set by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, we
ambled over to Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. Ariel Pink didn't play anything
from his last album that we remembered, but he did manage to blow me
away with every sonic note of reverb that he played (and there were a lot of them). I couldn't wrap my brain around the unravelling layers
of his songs, but I got lost in them anyway. (Later on I find out that Pink “seemed intent on ruining the set by causing feedback with his mic” because of issues with the sound guy…I also missed the bit where he stormed off stage saying, “I'm sorry… I know you hate me now.”) So rather than asking, “is Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti a jam band in
disguise?” I am now questioning whether my judgement of jam band noise.
(We wandered over to Tame Impala's set afterward, which made us think we were at Bonnarroo. Chillwave, alt-rock, prog–don't these labels all mean jam band in one sense or another?)
And then there was Lauryn Hill's hot, awesome mess. You know when you
talk to a crazy person and you can have a conversation that's all over
the place because they are incapable of one cohesive thought? That's what
Hills' set sounded like. Hill is a champ, and we know it, and she knows
That's why she can get away with turning her songs—beloved by all–into unrecognizable versions, stuffed with superfluous instruments and
gratuitous tempo changes that went this way and that with no discernible order.
“Lost Ones,” a childhood favorite of slinky hooks and melodies, was
rendered into a fast, blustery big band extravaganza, with horns blasting in at Hill's whim, and a gaggle of backup singers anticipating key shifts in Hill's voice. It was the same with “Everything is Everything” and “Fugee-La”–Hill performed with such an intense force that you forgot the reason that song was so great was because of all the time she took to let the notes hang in the air, the sweet spaces in the melodies.
Still, her band of seasoned pros funked it up at every turn, and there was no doubt that it was the highlight of everyday. You know what people say about sex? That even when it's bad, it's still good? Well, that was Lauryn Hill. Still incredibly good.