Good Things Don’t Always Have to Come to an EndSeptember 18th, 2013
Pixies – The Bowery Ballroom – September 17, 2013
One of my life’s most pleasant surprises came to me back in 2009, when I was blessed with the chance to see a band I never thought I would see live, the Pixies. They were on a short reunion tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Doolittle, playing a set of the entire album start to finish. While they had reunited just a few years earlier for some shows (including a big one at Coachella), I never had any expectations that a band that had broken up via a series of faxes would start playing enough shows again for me to see one. But life is funny like that, and now I have had the chance to see them twice.
Last night’s Pixies show at The Bowery Ballroom may well serve as the epilogue to this pleasant surprise, with this tour being my chance to see them play every great song they may have missed on that Doolittle tour. Sure, this time they are sadly without Kim Deal, but outside of that it’s the same ol’ Pixies. Look no further than Black Francis’ gritty squeals of “U-mass,” singing “IT’S ED-JOO-KAY-SHUN-AL!” so loud and distorted it’s amazing he didn’t end the song on his knees searching for chunks of his own bloody vocal chords he may have screamed out. It’s incredible that this song came early in their set, and Francis somehow still had the voice to sing through the rest of the night.
The show featured several interesting set-list choices, beginning with two covers, “Big New Prinz” by the Fall and “Head On” by the the Jesus and Mary Chain. Most in the audience seemed to be looking at one another thinking these must be the new Pixies songs, but with the first few chords of “Crackity Jones” and its subsequent spastic hoedown, the venue was losing it. The band played through a healthy blend of songs from their four studio albums, performing the likes of “Tame,” “Wave of Mutilation,” “Hey” and “I’ve Been Tired,” alongside some of their albums’ lesser-known fan favorites (mine being “Caribou”). “Vamos” went into a noisy jam fest that toward the end featured Joey Santiago unplugging his guitar, holding his chord to his head and running the distorted electronic screams through his effects pedal. Pixies followed that with the night’s last song, “Where Is My Mind.” And where was my mind during this? It was hoping to see them a third time, because good things don’t always have to come to an end. —Dan Rickershauser