Pink Reason’s music excavates much darker, danker caverns of the soul than whichever chamber processes losses by your local sports team. (There’s always next year, after all.) Still, after watching the Buckeyes crash out of the Final Four, I was in the mood for the kind of aggressive morbidity you expect from a band whose singer calls himself Kevin Failure.
Imagine my surprise upon being informed by drummer Rich Johnston on The Summit’s patio that Pink Reason now sounds like The Rolling Stones. All previous encounters with Kevin De Broux’s music conjured the ugliest lows of crushing despondency. Even on 2011’s relatively brighter “S--- in the Garden,” Pink Reason’s slow, curdled groan-rock encapsulated the kind of deviance and debauchery inspired by prison stints and meth-fueled park sleeping, not free time and disposable income. No, seriously dude: He can’t get no satisfaction.
Since emerging from the north woods of Wisconsin circa 2006 with a series of obscure records that made him an instant underground icon, De Broux has been roaming, with stints in Lafayette, Columbus, New York and Russia. Now he’s back here playing with a four-piece Pink Reason that includes his ex-Psychedelic Horseshit mates Johnston and Matt Whitehurst.
They delivered a half-hour of rock not nearly as confrontational as I expected, but still violent and despairing enough to fit the mood of the hour. The Stones would not be my reference point of choice. Pavement and their ramshackle contemporaries loomed heavily, and not just because of the instantaneous broken strings and frequent less-than-meticulous tuning. De Broux and bros matched fierce rigidity with muffled pop instinct in a manner that reminded me of the Constantines and Mission of Burma, narrated by De Broux’s Ian Curtis moan.
Among my notes: “This rocks.” “So much tuning.” “God, this song is so humongous.” “Guitar unplugged, who cares?” “Double guitar solo noise-pop madness!”
Songs disintegrated and rebuilt before my ears. At one point they sounded like a battering ram on the front of a train. They were blunt and nuanced at once, with little glimpses of reverie flickering through the doldrums. If Kevin De Broux can cheer up, so can you, Brutus Buckeye.