Pinback/Coliseum at Ottobar

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, September 20, 2013

Coliseum is one of those bands I followed for a short period of time and lost track of. I reviewed their sophomore effort No Salvation in 2007, and found it to be a solid and angry hardcore album. Shortly after that I saw them open for Converge and lost track of them. I heard that their sound had changed significantly with 2010’s House with a Curse, but it wasn’t until this year’s Sister Faith that I really had a chance to re-orient myself with the group. What I discovered was a band that had mellowed out a bit, but managed to perfectly balance catchy melodies and a slightly rougher edge and I loved it. Sister Faith remains one of my albums of the year, and during this year’s Maryland Deathfest I had the opportunity to catch the group performing up the road. Like my experience with the record, I was blown away but I didn’t have the chance to write a review because of how chaotic Deathfest is as a whole. So when I saw that Coliseum was coming back through the area opening for Pinback, I jumped on it and headed out to the Ottobar.

I can’t remember the last time I have been to a show where there were only two bands on the bill, but that was the case with this particular performance. My experience with Pinback has been fairly limited but the venue was already filled with people when I arrived which is always a good sign. Shortly after I arrived Coliseum took the stage and immediately launched in to their set. What struck me immediately is that I’ve seen the group play in a fairly small and a mid-size venue now, and they’ve sounded flawless no matter where they perform. The sound was perfectly balanced between the instrumentals and vocals, making it easy for the audience to take in both the catchy guitar leads and Ryan Patterson’s rougher edged singing/screaming. When I saw the group perform their headlining set there was a good deal of commentary and interaction with the audience between songs, but this time around it seemed like Coliseum was trying to cram as many songs as they could into their set list. I like both approaches, but definitely appreciated the chance to hear as many tunes as possible since the group was in a support slot this time around. As I expected the emphasis was on House with a Curse and Sister Faith, which makes sense considering this was a crowd that was more indie rock oriented. Now that I’ve seen them twice, I think I’ve heard the majority of Sister Faith live and it seems like the band always plays the tracks that I like the most off that particular record which makes them incredibly fun to watch. If you’ve been listening to Coliseum’s albums and haven’t seen them live yet, rest assured that they manage to perfectly replicate the material and don’t miss a beat onstage while providing a varied set list. It was hard to gauge whether Pinback fans were truly receptive to what these guys had to offer, but hopefully they were able to gain some new fans.

Coming in to this show, all I knew about Pinback was that they were an indie rock band that had been around for over a decade and that I had seen the name thrown around on more than one occasion. After checking out their set, I’m not sure that this is the type of music I would choose to listen to at home based on where my musical tastes have headed in recent months but they were definitely a lot of fun to watch. Pinback’s overall style is fairly mellow but still has enough emotion to it to avoid becoming mere background music, and watching the three members perform I could feel like they were really connecting with the crowd. Like Coliseum’s set, this one sounded great and whoever was running the boards at Ottobar on this particular evening was able to capture the nuances of both acts extremely well. What I did like about this group was that they seemed to have a bit more depth than your average indie rock act, as rather than falling into a pattern and playing similar sounding songs for an entire set when they dug through their discography each piece really seemed different from the last. There’s a good deal of interplay between Rob Crow and Zach Smith, as they both contribute vocals on almost every song and have pitches that are fairly different but complement each other nicely. Pinback remained tight and cohesive throughout their set, and played with a sometimes overwhelming amount of energy that the crowd absolutely ate up. Watching them it was hard to believe that this is a group that has been around since 1998, as they certainly don’t seem to have hit the fatigue and “by the numbers” performances that sometimes occur when bands have been together for a decade or longer. Despite the fact that my musical tastes have moved away from this type of mellower indie rock to an extent, I really enjoyed watching them perform and would definitely be happy to check them out again if they return to the Baltimore area.







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