Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti / Magic Kids / Puro Instinct Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON July 22

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti / Magic Kids / Puro Instinct Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON July 22
A 6:45 p.m. start time seemed unrealistic, especially for an Ariel Pink show, and it proved to be. Openers Pearl Harbor, or Puro Instinct as they're now called, were "super late" according to promoters, but the sibling-led Californians were given a quick 20 minutes to do what they could. Though it felt a bit rushed, their four songs lived up to the windswept, ethereal dream pop found on this year's excellent Something About the Chaparrals EP.

This meant that the set from Memphis, TN's Magic Kids would be downsized as well. It was an unfortunate circumstance, considering the six-piece played the role of sprightly keeners as they previewed their forthcoming debut album, Memphis. Live they're more like a ramshackle mini-orchestra, as singles "Hey Boy" and "Superball" were executed with rawer jubilation than on record. They seemed like an odd choice to precede a character like Ariel Pink, but nonetheless did their part as entertainers.

Pink and his Haunted Graffiti band walked on stage, but were pre-empted by an episode of Spookey Ruben's Dizzy Playground, one that co-starred the headliner (and one editor-in-chief of Exclaim!, for that matter). Always unpredictable on stage, Pink never lived up to his past reputation as an erratic control freak on this night. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as he expressed some happiness and called the show fun at one point.

This boded well for his band, a tight unit capable of translating their leader's peculiar lo-fi-isms into proper rock songs. They used the coloured lights to assist with the scorching metallic riffs of "Butt-House Blondies," and upheld the softness of yacht rocker "Round and Round," which Pink correctly predicted would please the crowd. At times, the frontman seemed bent on playing saboteur to his band's prowess, but no matter how much he tried to bungle his vocals, crack his belt like a whip or stare them down, he couldn't impair their concentration. And boy did he ever try.