Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photos/Review: Pixies @ Wellmont Theatre

Pixies @ Wellmont Theatre - October 27, 2011
Photo & Review: Mike Koene

There isn’t much I can say about the Pixies that hasn’t been said already. Masters of melodic, hot/cold, fractured tropical sunset robo-dream rock? Say what you will about the Pixies’ lack of new material (since their reunion in 2004, they’ve only released one new song), their influence is indisputable and their body of work is hard to argue with. The question of whether or not their back catalog is rich enough to sustain nearly a decade of touring, is answered every time the Pixies get onstage. I’ll admit, I’ve had doubts. Apart from how much I loved the songs, I couldn’t help but question the relevance of a band that can’t or won’t write new material. As it turns out, I was wrong to doubt but I’m grateful that I did, if only because it set the stage for the Pixies to blow my mind even further.

After an intro that was a little long (surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou via LCD screen and a cinematic score (slicing up eyeballs), The Pixies took the stage like a pillow being stuffed into a bass drum. They made the room heavy. The crowd was abuzz and unlike the last Pixies show I went to, not full of d-bags. Pixies launched into a few obscure and not so obscure B-sides, including "Manta Ray" (a personal favorite), before the main event, their masterpiece Doolittle in it’s entirety. I got the impression they were warming up and would soon catch alight. The explosion came in the form of the album opener, “Debaser” and the thought which crossed my mind was “Frank Black never changes.” My doubt went away. You don’t question a force of nature.

The familiar interplay between guitarist Joey Santiago’s pinched surf and FB’s understated guitar crunch was there but louder and Black’s voice has only gotten better with age. As the band made it’s way through the album, songs that I’ve heard countless times were filled with new life. The guitars foamed up and washed over us and I felt like I was actually seeing the real deal PIXIES. The rhythm section of Kim Deal and David Lovering jack-hammered away and I could see in my mind’s eye the essential nature of the band, an unstoppable grinding machine, eating time and shitting roses. It’s hard to list highlights since every song pretty much kicked ass.

After a driving rendition of “Gouge Away,” the album closer, the band took a bow and left the stage. The crowd was needy and basically started crying like babies but we all knew they’d be back out. Pixies aren’t stingy. What we didn’t know was that we’d be treated to what was essentially another mini-set. After a weird pick (“Wave of Mutilation” for the second time in the show and slower), a power outage-inducing version of “Into the White” and a Pixie-perfect “Where Is My Mind?”, among other invincible rockers (“Broken Face”, “UMass”), the band closed out the show with a gigantic-sounding “Gigantic." As the Pixies waved goodbye, the crowd sobbed uncontrollably.

If there’s one thing to be said about Pixies, it’s that they don’t sound dated, which is remarkable considering the unconcealed debt they owe to certain well-worn styles of music. Their sound is almost impossible to pin down and none of the usual superlatives do it justice. Labels like “alternative”, “surf punk” and “freak folk” fall short in describing the music of the future. Their sound exists on the edge of a blade. Maybe that’s why the Pixies have somehow remained relevant, despite accusations of stagnation from the unenlightened. They wrote this music over twenty years ago and the world is still trying to catch up.


We have another review of the Pixies show in Asbury Park (which was the day after this performance), and it will be up shortly. Below, check out some more photos of the Wellmont Theatre show as well as the setlist.

Dancing the Manta Ray
Weird At My School
Bailey’s Walk
Manta Ray

Wave of Mutilation
I Bleed
Here Comes Your Man
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Mr. Grieves
Crackity Jones
La La Love You
No. 13 Baby
There Goes My gun
Gouge Away

Wave of Mutilation
Into the White
Where Is My Mind?
Nimrod’s Son
Broken Face

1 comment: