When the Pixies announced that they would regroup and tourearlier this year, millions of indie rock fans (and their sons anddaughters) responded with some combination of glee and boredom,fascination and appall. Would the once-potent foursome yet again bea furious musical ball of nerves or would the reunion be a criticalborefest along the lines of the world tour of Journey and REOSpeedwagon?
So far, it seems it’s the former. Widely-distributed bootlegs ofthe band’s first public performance in fifteen years (an April 13appearance at Fine Line Music Caf� in Minneapolis) seem toindicate that they do, in fact, still have it.
Playing through a selection of songs culled mostly from theircritically acclaimed first long-players Surfer Rosa and Doolittle,the band does sound refreshed. More refreshed than the performanceson the solo albums from co-singers Frank Black and Kim Deal.
Talking about the Pixies has always been a bizarre experience.Like so many well-known but seldom heard bands of the era, thegroup experienced little radio play outside of college campuses andwas rarely seen strutting their sexy on MTV.
Regardless the lack of widespread exposure, the band’s catalogis riddled with hit singles and fan favorites. Nearly all wereincluded in the Minneapolis performance. “Where Is My Mind?”re-popularized on college campuses just a few years ago by itsinclusion in the “Fight Club” soundtrack, is backed by an entireaudience cooing the background vocals.
“U-Mass,” Frank Black’s incendiary assault on hipsters wasgleefully spit out of his mouth at a crowd that probablysimultaneously understands and misses the intention of thesong.
And Kim Deal’s ode to oversized male genitalia, “Gigantic,” ispresent and is as explosive as ever.
The most interesting thing about the recent performance is justhow Pixies-like it is. Cynicism dictates a comparison between thisbootleg and the live show included on the 1997 dual-CD, Death tothe Pixies. It’s very difficult to believe that 15 years separatesthe two performances and that fact is just a bit frustrating.
If the various members of the band had this enthusiasm in themall along, why did Frank Black bother to release so many plodding,lumbering compilations of three-chord albums as boring andconvoluted as this sentence is structured? And why did Kim Deal’sBreeders implode after releasing The Last Splash? And why is itthat you can find that damned record for three dollars at any usedrecord store?
If the band was always ready to reconvene and kick ass with allthe swagger and sublime jitteriness of the past, why did they abusefans with so much schlock during their 15-year hiatus?
The only conclusion that I can come to is that, when Frank Blackfaxed to the other members of the band that he was quitting in 1993to gain weight and become completely irrelevant, it was less acomment on the musical state of the band at that time and moreabout some sort of self-imposed Catholic death wish.
Fine Line Music Café
The setlist for the Pixies first show on their return tour ran thegamut of old and new, including some songs that had never beenperformed live by the band. Below is the complete setlist.
01. Bone Machine
02. Wave of Mutilation
04. Levitate Me
05. Broken Face
06. Monkey Gone To Heaven
07. Holiday Song
09. Nimrod’s Song
10. La La Love You
11. Ed Is dead
12. Here Comes Your Man
16. Number 13 Baby
19. Gouge Away
21. Isla De Encanta
23. In Heaven->Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
24. Where Is My Mind?
25. Into The White
Thank God that whatever forces ended Black’s long publicflogging finally came. If for no other reason than I don’t have tolisten to another horrible performance by the man’s backing bandThe Catholics for the foreseeable future.
P.S.: No one at The Vanguard told you to do this, but you mightwant to consider tracking this bootleg down. You know, maybe onthat Internet thing.