Club Congress, Friday, Dec. 3

Allegedly, Pinback's been having some relationship problems. They even tried to cancel their show at Club Congress last Friday, but Club Congress manager David Slutes managed to win the show back by making it all-ages. There was a sense of tension present even before openers The Advantage and The Album Leaf began playing--there was a long line to get in, even at 9:30 p.m.--which developed into a nagging feeling of nastiness as the show began. This probably permeated from the fact that Pinback, even though their music is a likeable blend of all things good about pretentious indie rock, didn't want to play the show in the first place.

The Advantage play music from video games, arranged for your standard four-piece rock band. The novelty wears off after three songs and becomes incredibly tedious.

The Album Leaf are a mostly instrumental project fronted by Tristeza's Jimmy LaValle, and LaValle's music is not made for noisy clubs. Their last show in Tucson was at Solar Culture and was mesmerizing; the electronic soundscapes filled the silent gallery as short films played on a screen behind the band. But in Club Congress, the opening notes of the first track on In a Safe Place were lost in the din. There was significant feedback coming from somewhere, and we could barely hear LaValle's keyboards. LaValle stopped the set for a good 10 minutes and tried to fix the problem, and when they started playing again, it was a little better, but not much; it was still hard to hear the intricacies of the songs over the general drunken roar of the crowd.

By the time Pinback took the stage, there were so many people at the front of the stage that I couldn't get through to get a good picture. Or, rather, no one would let me through. At the last Pinback show at Club Congress, in 2003, I was pushed and stepped on, plus someone dropped a beer bottle on my foot, and then the next day, I was in a terrible car accident. This show was not much different, save the car accident. What is with Pinback fans? Someone actually moved so that I couldn't get past.

Pinback played songs off of Offcell, their 2003 EP, and from their new release, Summer in Abaddon; the sound was markedly improved from the Album Leaf's set and the music markedly more interesting than The Advantage, but playing and watching music is supposed to be fun, not filled with a toxic acidity. The lineup was great, but the show as a whole was a series of truly unfortunate events.

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