Ariel Pink’s Birthday Meltdown

Nothin’ like a blissful and theatrical performance of the indulgence of rock-n-roll to remind us why life is worth livin. Fans willing to sing your songs for you? Girls willing to flash their breasts to bulging security guards on Slauson Blvd? Friends willing to watch over and over again as one of the most compelling creative forces of their sub-society succeeds or evaporates, always with spectacular results? Chaos!


  • photo by Cameron Gray

The street scene looked like an ultra hip episode of My Sweet 16– kids lined up around the block (much to the dismay of security and police) to get into Ariel Pink’s birthday party, many of them turned away and some of them attempting extreme measures to gain entry (we saw two teenage girls offer to flash the door guy).

The party sprawled throughout a downtown warehouse usually used for music video shoots and Asian fraternity parties, spilling out into the parking lot where fans and friends compared notes regarding previous Pink experiences. When we arrived, Fancy Space People had just begun their bizarrely glam procession, dancers carrying flags through the crowd in lines as the musicians assembled. Then, all at once: ROCK.

Don Bolles Forever! - PHOTO BY AMY DARSA

  • photo by Amy Darsa
  • Don Bolles Forever!

We walked through the laziest mosh pit ever made, pulled forward by the unblinking bulging eyes of the furie that is Nora Keyes. She thrusted her arms forward as if to rip the heart from an invisible demon, then tossed her head back and howled across three octaves – she is, effectively, a one woman rock opera finding drama and glamour in every measure.


  • photo by Cameron Gray

Thrusting and churning under Keyes’ alt-diva stylings, a wily pack of silver-suited gender benders celebrated their strangeness with dexterity and togetherness. The inimitable Don Bolles banged his platinum wig hither and thither while shredding and yowling like the devil’s plaything that he is. Fancy Space People is the musical version of unprotected sex while on ecstasy- a little bit scary but it just feels so POSITIVE.

What followed was the most enjoyable meltdown we’ve experience in years.

The proud birthday party attendees smushed against the stage, waiting for deliverance. Sound check sounded like a disaster waiting to happen, and then it did. A few songs started but none of them found footing past a first muddy verse, quickly sinking into a swamp of backing track and feedback. Suddenly, Ariel disappeared. Eager to please, the mosh pit attempted to encourage his return. When it became clear the guest of honor would not honor his audience with his presence, his most enthusiastic fans jumped onstage and took turns singing karaoke to his backing tracks– still chuggin’ along as only a recording can do. When the kids tired of jumping around onstage and playing Pink, an unlikely suspect stole the show. A formidable man we have never seen before was playing what looked like a toy clarinet throughout this mad malaise. At some point, the spirit struck him – he approached the mic and serenaded the faithful few who remained, giving the evening a poetic coda capable of saving many a disappointed soul.