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Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 - Check 1, Check 2 | Music & nightlife

Pinback show interrupted by bass thief

'Crime doesn't pay!' drummer says

By Peter Holslin
zachsmith Pinback's Zach Smith with his bass
When a band’s gear gets stolen, the band doesn’t always get it back. It’s rarer, still, for a band to get its gear stolen in the middle of a show, and then get it back in time to finish the set. But that’s exactly what happened to Pinback on Saturday night.

The celebrated local indie-rock band was playing at Sunset Temple in North Park to a packed crowd as part of San Diego Music Thing. The show started at around
11 p.m., and everything was going great until about half an hour into their set, when Pinback bassist / keyboardist / singer Zach Smith glanced over to the backstage area to his right.

“Hey," he said, "did somebody steal my second bass over there?”

The show ground to a halt as the three members—Smith, guitarist / singer Rob Crow and drummer Chris Prescott—dashed offstage to investigate. A few minutes later, a visibly frazzled Crow came back onstage to explain to the audience that Smith’s bass had, indeed, been swiped mid-set.

The custom-built bass is very rare, very expensive and made by the company Alembic, Crow said. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Smith’s lost one of his handcrafted beauties to a thief. 

Sunset Temple is located right around the corner from Claire De Lune Coffee Lounge, on Kansas Street and University Avenue. John Schardt, who was doing merch for Pinback, said the thief managed to sneak in through the back area of the venue unseen, though security was at the venue. The thief didn’t get far, though. About half an hour after the show stopped, Smith marched back to Sunset Temple, bass in hand.

Pinback's drummer saved the day. While surveying the block, Prescott explained, he spotted a man stuffing the bass into a trashcan, and then saw the man run down the street. Prescott tried to stop him several times—at one point, he says, the man begged just to be let go—before successfully intercepting him inside Queen Bee’s, a venue located a few blocks away from Sunset Temple on Ohio Street.

“Crime doesn’t pay!” Prescott told me with a smile.

The alleged thief has been arrested and taken into custody. SDPD Lt. Andra Brown didn’t respond to an email and phone call by the time I posted this article, so it’s unclear who he is or what he's been charged with. I’ll run an update in Wednesday’s issue of CityBeat. Update (9/17): Contrary to what I originally reported, the alleged thief has in fact not been arrested. According to SDPD Det. Gary Hassen, police responded to a call at Queen Bee's at 11:54 p.m., but Smith decided not to press charges. I apologize for the error.

While all this was going down, Crow kept the audience company by playing some songs solo, and at one point he was joined by Jamuel Saxon drummer Jayson Ehm.
After about a 40-minute break, the full band started playing again at around 12:17 a.m.

Most of the crowd had stuck around, and the trio spent the next 50 minutes playing a heartfelt, spine-tingling set packed with crowd favorites like “Good to Sea," "Fortress" and “Prog" and ending with two encores. Clearly, they were back in high spirits. “I guess I do like drummers," Smith joked,
when he went back onstage. "Thanks, Chris.”

Later, he said, “I’m very grateful I got my bass back.”