Sunday, September 12, 2010
I can't thinka nothin...
If there is one band that could be credited with the sound of the 90's, it would have to be The Pixies. In a time where Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, and Poison ruled the rock waves, The Pixies came around with their version of what would eventually become known as "alternative" rock. This band left their unique stamp on music, influencing just about everyone from Nirvana, to Radiohead, Blur, and U2, while keeping a style that no one ever came close to duplicating, much like the Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, etc. After an eleven year hiatus, they have been reunited since '04, almost as long as their original run. With this year being the 20th anniversary of the release of the classic album Doolittle, Black Francis and company have taken the record to the road, playing it in its entirety, B sides included. Apparently it was a good idea, as they sold out the Ryman so fast they had to add a second night.
Having already paid full price a few weeks ago for a ticket, I arrived in plenty of time to scope out my seat and wait for the openers to start. I wasn't too excited to see a folding table with a computer and a bunch of tweeky gear set up. When the F*ck Buttons (yep, that's right) started, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. With the intricate melodies and dynamics of the Pixies, don't give me a bunch of loud treble noise and seizure inducing strobe lights as a "supporter". I say, if they were going to go with an obscenity in their name, they should have gone with the Sh*t Buttons. This was a great way to empty the auditorium, totally flooding the smoking deck and merch lines, and giving me a chance to catch up with an old friend, the guy who actually got me into The Pixies.
After waiting for the F Buttons to end, then waiting for the crew to turn the stage over, the show finally started. Without turning down the house lights, the big screen started to show the Salvador Dali film Un chien andalou, about which "Debaser" was written, garnering a squeal from the crowd with the slicing of the eyeball. Then the lights went down and the band took the stage. They started with B sides from Doolittle, slightly confusing some of the fans. You could almost hear the collective wheels turning, as if to say, "wait, this isn't "Debaser", what's going on here?"
When they finally broke into "Debaser", the place went crazy. The band nailed every little sound and nuance from the record, and with two of the most recognizable voices in all of music, Black Francis and Kim Deal belted it out as only they can, while the rest of the theater sang along. Really, Kim Deal is one of my favorite singers in the world. Her voice is equal parts raspy and soft, perfectly complimenting Francis' screams and growls. As they rolled through the set, I could only stand and watch with awe. Joey Santiago was spot on with the lead guitar on songs like "Here Comes Your Man" and "I Bleed", and it was cool to see the band recreate all the noise on "There Goes My Gun" and "Silver". My personal favorites were "Mr. Grieves", "Hey", and the set closing "Gouge Away".
They came out for the first encore with more B sides. The slower U.K. surf mix of "Wave Of Mutilation" seemed to confuse everyone. Why would they play a song twice in one show? It was fine with me, as this was the only song I missed in the set due to a bathroom break. How often do you miss a song, only to hear it played again later in the show? Then they absolutely flooded the stage with smoke and gave a sick rendition of "Into The White", before leaving quietly again.
I thought the show might be over, but as the crowd continued to clap and the lights stayed down, we all realized that there would be a second encore. They finally returned and Kim coyly whispered "we also know some A sides." They tore into a run which ended with Bossanova's "Dig For Fire" and two of their most recognizable numbers from Surfer Rosa, "Where Is My Mind" and "Gigantic".
It was incredible. This band truly is one of the most influential bands in rock history. Seeing them play was something I will never forget, and will be a show to which all others are compared. My love for Kim Deal has only grown stronger, and the rest of the band just signed their application for the hall of fame. I hope they can stand each other long enough to celebrate 20 years of Surfer Rosa and Trompe le Monde. If they do, I'll be "one happy prick". Rock me Joe.