Liz Maher saw the Pixies at Bowery Ballroom this week, and was kind enough to file this report...La la la:
Pixies played a series of sold out shows from 9/17-9/20 in NYC with one show in Brooklyn. I attended the 9/18/13 show and according to my friend, who went on the 17th, I caught the better night. Not that he didn’t enjoy Monday’s show but he would have preferred the set list from Tuesday which featured more Surfer Rosa and Doolittle tunes.
Minus Kim 1, Pixies put on an enjoyable and nostalgically warming performance. New girl and bassist, Kim Shattuck (Kim 2), is like a fan who won a contest to play with the Pixies, smiling ear to ear, hopping up and down, and singing throughout the show. At least MADM was not cheerful with Smashing Pumps when D’Arcy dropped out. Imagine Katie Couric with a bass and a smaller ass and you get the annoying picture. Or possibly the new girlfriend at a family get together after a divorce trying to fit in and offend no one. Smile, be positive and enthusiastic. Remaining Pixies have aged though, and the gathering might have easily occurred at a backyard barbecue where Black F, Lovering and Santiago spontaneously just started strumming for ol’ times sake, and somehow happen to pass the hat and earn concert fees with which to pay their Massachusetts and California property taxes because the business model for rock bands just works that way. Loved that Black Narcissus, I mean Francis, needed his set list blown up to 3 pages. My friend chortled that BFF’s drug of choice these days was probably Centrum Silver. Nonetheless, the 26 songs played Tuesday rocked with hardly tarnished vocals true to the anguished cries of the 90s S&L Crisis. Robert Plant lost his voice at age 40 but Flack Brancis sounds the same as he did at 20.
A crowd of mostly men appreciated and sang along with many of the songs. They also probably all read John Bly books and belong to a male knitting club that knits manly things.
Black Francis’ vocals should have been turned up higher as he often got drowned out by the loud,
mutilating wave of Santiago’s guitar. Speaking of -- Santiago’s guitar – a surprise switch from the deep-toned gold body Gibson Les Paul reissue of the 90's to a black Les Paul with lots of inlaid crap on the rosewood, a Gibson semi-hollow body which was tasty, and a Fender bolt-on neck monstrosity (I could not tell what pickups were in use from the way the stage was lit except it looked like two P90's – mail in photos if you have them or leave a comment expanding on the tech) -- has gotten more pleasingly Eek-a-Mouse squeally with time, often upstaging the other Pixies. Santiago is either underrated or unrated as a guitar player, not sure which, but I find his playing deceptively pleasing in the sense that first there is endless droning the lead as essentially rhythm and then making a whole lot of good loud noise. bF played some songs on a Fender Telecaster which appeared to have been sanded down and not refinished. I can only take him seriously on the acoustic. The rhythm section was syncopated and those two could have been a beatbox for all the passion and artistic element present. K2’s bass appeared to be a Fender Precision which has a classic 60s bowling alley sound. Lovering’s drumming kept up well through the night and he was loving being back on stage and providing the La la la love you bits of the evening. I am still La la la'ing days later. La la.
Bone Machine, Break My Body, Here Comes Your Man, Monkey Gone To Heaven, Wave of Mutilation and Where is My Mind predictably drew the greatest crowd response. I missed Cactus, Gigantic and Is She Weird. Bag Boy also went over well but for me it lacks that twisted, sardonic bluntness that makes Pixies’ songs enchanting rip out your heart swell. Swizz Beatz and Timbaland were not in the House. Bowery Ballroom is an intimate space which allowed the Pixies to get cozy with the audience which they choose not to do except for little perks of acknowledgment bands give when the audience recognizes an old hit. A roadie constantly tuning instruments on the side of the stage was distracting but also comically amusing - don't mind me, I'm just stepping over the bassist who isn't Kim 1 anyway.
Opening up for Pixies was Reinwolf, a three piece that was really a solo act of Jordan Cook, who not to be missed, assumed the stage by walking front the front of the house through the crowd with his big red Gibson semi-hollowbody guitar channeling like Mama Rosa in her red dress in the last act of Gypsy. His initial surge of energy was impressive but then I realized he was wasting my time. As Mama Rose told Louise, "Make 'em beg for more, and then don't give it to them!" Cook got better again when he balanced on his drum kit, but sadly it did not collapse. La la.
Brick Is Red
Break My Body
La La Love You
Here Comes Your Man
I've Been Tired
What Goes Boom
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Wave of Mutilation
Another Toe in the Ocean
Greens and Blues
In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)
Where Is My Mind?