I've certainly have ran my mouth about longevity both in my show reviews, interviews and babbling blog - or hid behind a computer with a stern mix of smugness and hint of elitism - whatever gets you to sleep at night, right?
I've been able to catch quite a few big acts in my day. Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M. and the "holy crap, I'm not going to make it out of this show alive" set by Rage Against the Machine. While all of those bands have left their mark on our young minds, past generations and future ones yet to discover, I was once again thrilled with the Pixies show tonight.
The Pixies are out performing Doolittle, their 1989 landmark album and follow-up to the buzz that already surrounded their debut full length Surfer Rosa. Where Surfer Rosa was a bit rough around the edges, Doolittle was sharp and as well executed as the decade of "post-" thought in bands such as Gang of Four and Talking Heads. The Pixies certainly didn't sound like they were concerned more about the numbers - it was about the tone. The creation of tension. The quick rises and the sudden drops. The band's sound was about the aura and uneasy feeling tacked onto the ride and experience for the listener. Unlike Fugazi and Sonic Youth - two bands I see focusing on similar elements and writing equally as influential records for the time - the Pixies were more about an anti-pop edge. How attractive could I make this blade, so that I know you'll cut your finger on it and possibly gain pleasure from its slice.
With the performance of Doolittle came a welcomed opening surprise of b-sides from the single "Monkey Gone to Heaven," including "Dance the Manta Ray," "Manta Ray" and "Weird at My School." If that wasn't enough for die hard fans of the band and album, "Debaser" kicked off the anticipated meat of the set, sounding sharp and contemporary, as the band still maintains the snarling punk rock ethos and heightened feel that they are best known for. One of the things about seeing Doolittle performed live is certainly the difference in execution. This is not a jab on the album's production, but to feel even more uncomfortable during "I Bleed" and getting lost in "Silver" as it clunks along are only minor highlights of the experience. On the first guitar licks of "Here Comes Your Man," the crowd went as wild as their shouting match with Black Francis during "Monkey Gone to Heaven," erupting in "FIVE....SIX....SEVEN. SEVEN. SEVEN..." during the songs psychotic belting bridge. After the beautifully creepy closing "Gouge Away," the band took almost five minutes criss-crossing the stage in smiles, waving at the crowd's ovation.
Would that be it? Are you kidding me?
The band came back to perform the "Here Comes Your Man" b-sides "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Version)" and "Into the White." During "Into the White," the entire stage filled with white smoke, and Kim Deal's voice sounded angelic and apocalyptic all at once. As the smoke cleared, the band disappeared into the night. The crowd still wanted more. As all the lights came down off the stage once more, the house lights and stage lights came up at once - usually the sign of "go the fuck home, it's over," but no, they returned again. As all the lights stayed up in the venue, the band kicked out four fan favorites for a second encore, including the crowd erupting "Where is My Mind" and one hell of a grandeur wall of a closer, "Gigantic."
As Fuck Buttons set the tone with their opening, hour long, darkened set of atmospheric digital manipulation, it was quite a night. As I was looking around at the diverse age demographic the room held last night, it was reassuring to know the chart the Pixies laid out is acknowledged by the young who are discovering and still acknowledged by the generations that grew up to the sound. While those blueprints are seen across the musical board and with contemporary bands every day, it looks like the innovators of mood swing filled anti-pop can still kick out the jams.