Ariel Pink, his microphone apparently haunted by a lack of volume, stalked around the stage inside the Gobi tent Friday afternoon without a clear sense of purpose. He spent most of the set smoking cigarettes with his back to the audience, a la early Jim Morrison, only without the sinewy sexual charisma.
Wearing a see-through lace shirt, red sunglasses and a studded black belt, his shoulder-length blond hair tangled, Pink frustrated the crowd, and willingly so, it seemed. He's known for that, though.
He has said that his music -- dark, ethereal and lovely in a hypnotic, somber way -- was never meant to be performed live. But for all that, his backing band is skilled and made up for Pink's disaffected approach to his set.
At one point Pink left the stage, "I'm sorry -- I know you hate me now," he said before disappearing 15 minutes into the show.
"That's it? Are you serious?" said one fan as a confused grumble rose from the crowd. His band stood there for a while and then finally left to retrieve him. It didn't take long, and this time when he came out he appeared to make a bit more effort to interact with the audience, although his energy felt jittery and unbalanced.
Still, the late-afternoon foray into surreal, psych-tinged weirdness was worth it. What would Coachella be without a few deeply eccentric artists?
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafiti performs at Coachella. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times