Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: Pixies @ Asbury Park Convention Hall

Pixies @ Asbury Park Convention Hall - October 28, 2011
Photos & Review: James MacFie & Geanna Barlaam

Tag Team, back again! Ladies and gentlemen, your favorite concert-going-reviewing-brewing duo is in da house, this time with THE PIXIES! This time in ASBURY PARK! This time with more BEER!

Now, let’s get the formalities over with, shall we? As a continuation of their Doolittle tour, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of that album’s release, the Pixies have reached out beyond the major US cities and are hitting up smaller venues in what is now known as the “Lost Cities Tour” --using this opportunity to play in places they have never been to before, and after checking their 25-year concert planners, the Pixies decided to visit El Dorado, Atlantis, and finally Asbury Park, NJ’s Convention Hall.

The Mac and I have seen many a good show here at Convention Hall, so this was indeed a tasty treat to add on our excellent musical sundaes. Located on the boardwalk and stretching out over the water, the venue was built between 1928-30, in order to present the illustrious stylings of several esteemed, moustached barbershop quartets. Taking this just a small step further, Convention Hall has seen the likes of Green Day, Bob Dylan, and of course, Debbie Gibson.

Opening Band Time! From the slums of West Palm Beach came Surfer Blood, a very nice looking group of young men who had picked themselves up by their Puma shoe strings to bring us a handful of pleasant-sounding songs. Though not particularly memorable, the youthful band sounded good and left us primed and ready for the main attraction.

After what seemed like an eternity between sets, the lights went down and a movie began! On five small screens played Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, a surrealist nightmare of slicing eyeballs, hands infected with ants, and confused French men wearing lipstick. By far one of my favorite art films of all time, this portion of the show left the rest of the crowd bewildered and drunk. For us, it set the tone for the rest of the show itself: to see a band that was making music before we knew what good music was, a combination of sounds and settings that was at once both self-reflective and surreal.

Enough of this pseudo-intellectual garbage! The Pixies took the stage, with Kim Deal first announcing that they would play some B-sides to get the party started. Choosing tracks from their 1989 "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Here Comes Your Man" singles, the songs were (to us) obscure, but let the audience know that they were not about to just go through the motions like a bunch of hip-replaced pussies. They came to rock. And rock they did.

Getting down and dirty into Doolittle’s material, the Pixies plowed through Debaser (!!!), Tame, and Wave of Mutilation. The screen shots in the background throughout the show didn’t, for the most part, take away from the music and maintained the overall tone of the opening film. The Disney sing-a-long screens that played during "Hey," however, were extremely distracting, as the band and the words soon fell out of sync about a quarter of the way through the song. "Hey" also contained one of the biggest blue ball moments of the night, when Mr. Black Francis himself didn’t go for the final yell, ‘that the MOTHER MAKES when THE BABY BREAKS!” There are few things more disappointing than when a song like that peaks with a mumble and gargle. But, we’ll live.

This little rant aside, hearing the entirely of Doolittle live at such an intimate venue was off the charts awesomesauce. Although everyone seems to have lost a bit of their edge (likely due to playing the same songs over and over again for the past 2 years), they still sound GREAT and appear genuinely happy to be hanging out together on stage. After ending with "Gouge Away," each member walked along the stage, waving to the crowd, before coming together for a final bow at the end.

But wait, there’s more! For some reason, they came out to play a slow lullaby version of "Wave of Mutilation." I was hoping this meant they were going to play other songs twice (like, "DEBASER"!), but, they didn’t. Sad. What they did do was play "Into the White" while pumping out so much fog that the stage and band disappeared entirely from view. This especially scared James, as he had just recently watched the movie, The Fog, not even 24 hours earlier. Luckily, no one died.

After another short break to have a sit in their Rascals, the Pixies came out for a final four-song set that was ripped straight from their greatest hits: "Isla de Encanta," "Nimrod’s Son," "Caribou," and of course, "Where is My Mind?" We believe a scarf-sporting douche-man standing next to us, doing a club move and sweating profusely, may have had a minor stroke. But really, who can blame him? We all just saw the Pixies, and we will likely never see them again! Except next year for their ”Lost Cities Tour II: The Pixies in Space”


Be sure to also check out Mike Koene's review of the Pixies show that took place the night before this one!

Frank Black drowning in fog

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