Last Night: Pinback and El Ten Eleven @ Samueli Theater

By Andrew Youssef

Pinback, El Ten Eleven at Samueli Theater, Costa Mesa, July 31, 2008

Better Than: Questioning the trade of Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Download: “From Nothing to Nowhere” from Pinback’s homepage []

San Diego’s favorite sons, Pinback, brought their intricate melodies to the Samueli Theater for another installment of the Off Center concert series sponsored by Indie 103.1.

Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty make up El Ten Eleven, and the former's brain-busting bass lines started the evening on an adventurous note. A bevy of octave, delay, whammy and looping pedals was littered in front of Kristian as he recorded and looped his bass lines into a twisted mass of energy and noise. Drum machines and acoustic and electronic drums that added different shades to the colorful bass lines. Kristian impressed with his double-neck bass and guitar skills. His instrumental prowess bordered on ridiculous when he effortlessly switched to a fretless bass for some slinky bass lines. El Ten Eleven performed a cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” that reshaped the song into a dark electronic dance tune. “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool” effectively represents El Ten Eleven’s octave-hopping, mind-boggling, looped anarchy.

Complex melodies and soothing vocal harmonies form the musical infrastructure of Pinback, courtesy of melodic madmen Zach Smith (bass) and Rob Crow (guitars). They’re still touring behind Autumn of the Seraphs, their latest release on Touch and Go Records. The skeletal guitar lines of “Non Photo-Blue” poured over the audience as Rob worked in some extra guitar harmonics into the song. Rob and Zach frequently traded off vocal duties throughout their songs, as their voices cohesively united the melodies. The characteristic repeating light guitar chimes of “Penelope” garnered some cheers from the audience as Zach’s bass playingdrove the song. Circus-like synthesizers signaled the introduction to “Good to Sea,” as Rob and Zach continued to weave together their tight melodies. Old-school fans were rewarded when Pinback ventured back to 1999 for “Tripoli.” “Fortress” was impenetrable, as the melodies became stuck in my mind. “From Nothing to Nowhwere” bordered on punk, with Pinback cranking up the intensity. Pinback played almost 90 minutes, and left me humming the melody to “Fortress” long after the show ended.

Critic’s Notebook:

Personal Bias: I have some of Rob Crow’s solo albums.

Random Detail: Rob Crow was wearing mismatched socks.

By The Way: Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty also form half of the Softlightes who are on Modular records.

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