Tag Archives: Paz Lenchantin

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Alt-Rock Icons Pixies Fill Space at Westbury with Dark, Jarring Rock

September 25th, 2017

Pixies – the Space at Westbury – September 22, 2017


Pixies don’t banter. They don’t do it slick. They don’t waste time. You wouldn’t call them nihilist, but their music usually paints in life’s darker corners, and they don’t mind some mess and abrasion in it. Sure, there’s nostalgia in the inevitable airings of big Pixies songs—“Wave of Mutilation,” “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Where Is My Mind?”— but the band doesn’t serve them nostalgically: They mix with newer-era Pixies songs in a forceful, workmanlike way that can leave you brooding, rocking out or losing your balance. It may be 1989 or 2017, but your mind is in the moment.

That Pixies can still do this despite a major transition in their lineup—the departure of Kim Deal and arrival of bassist and multi-instrumentalist Paz Lenchantin over the last few years—suggests their service is to the music, which, save for backlight drama or a fog-machine blast or two, doesn’t rely on (or need) much spectacle to feel huge. Pixies strain everything from psychedelia and noise pop to country and blues through what might be called a classic “alternative rock” sound, and then scuff it up good. This isn’t and never has been comfortable, slip-on rock and roll. And that’s true even with the sunnier, more upbeat tone of their post-reunion records, Indie Cindy (2014) and Head Carrier (2016), whose songs are of a piece with the band’s off-kilter legacy material and slot in appropriately throughout a 90-minute-that-only-feels-like-20-minute show, the cultured Pixies weirdness still apparent even when dressed up in happy melodies.

At the Space on Friday, they launched into “Wave of Mutilation” and from there didn’t take much in the way of pauses, peeling off songs one after another: rockers, stomps, chugging metallic boogies. All in all, they got through about 30 of them, with standouts like “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Head Carrier,” “Crackity Jones” and “Um Chagga Lagga” mixing as ingredients in a spiked cocktail with the likes of “Velouria,” “Cactus,” “Snakes” and their gnarly version of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.” In some cases, the songs blurred together, around different sounds, around Frank Black’s piercing screams or Joey Santiago’s mighty smashing guitar, and that seemed to be the intended effect—a Pixies set is ultimately a panorama. Kind of a fucked up–looking panorama, maybe, but that’s life, as Lenchantin, Black, Santiago and drummer David Lovering would probably remind you. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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Pixies – Brooklyn Steel – May 26, 2017

May 30th, 2017


(Pixies play the Westbury Theater on 9/22 and the Capitol Theatre on 9/24.)

Photos courtesy of DeShaun Craddock | dac.photography

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The Pixies and the Transporting Power of Music at the Beacon Theatre

May 27th, 2015

Pixies – Beacon Theatre – May 26, 2015

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The settings in which we experience music can enhance and shape its impact. Listening then becomes a whole-body, visceral involvement, calling on all the senses. The places where we listen—cars, bedrooms, chambers of performance—affect the atmosphere and provide the scenic backdrop for our dances. Putting on the Pixies can provoke the kind of primal physical abandon normally associated with basements, backyard keggers and beach partying, so when this legendary band took the stage of the hallowed and glorious Beacon Theatre on Tuesday night, the reverence of the landmark space temporarily contained the energy that felt at some point would have to spill out into the aisles. Lunging in with the anguished surf ’n’ turf punk rock that is exclusively theirs, Pixies abruptly ignited the collective mood of anticipation, transforming the famed venue into a ceremonial grounds for their historic catalog. The assembly of avid “lifer” fans mixed with the new generation, sharing in common the appreciation of rock mastery and the gravitation to a kind of music that has served to channel the band’s vital restlessness.

Taking full advantage of impassioned company and the savory acoustics of the space, Pixies played a comprehensive set of a vast scope of work, weaving in and out of timeless classics and lesser known B-sides and current releases. Not content to rest on their laurels, they leaned into new and unusual material with the giddiness of a high school band at their first talent show, then pivoted into oldie-goodies, turning spectator intrigue into frenzied sing-alongs. All of it was presented with the dramatic arc of a rock opera. “Wave of Mutilation” ascended deliberately and hovered, with Frank Black’s voice crawling through Paz Lenchantin’s deep, muddy basslines. Then seizing on the hypnotic mood, Pixies grabbed the crowd by the necktie with the raucous anthems “Break My Body” and “The Holiday Song.” Lenchantin drove numbers like “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Velouria,” spookily mimicking former bassist Kim Deal with her playing and support vocals, while David Lovering’s flawless percussive churning intertwined with Joey Santiago’s standout guitar fluency on heavyweights like “Debaser” and “Bone Machine.” All throughout, Black’s unmistakable voice, which has remained as vibrant and true as it was on their earliest recordings, poured over the music like molasses. Pulling it all together like the firebrand lead he’s always been, Black added color and peaks at all the right moments with his quirky hoots and zany chirping.

By the time “Gouge Away” crept in with an extended-bassline intro and escalated into its deviously enabling chorus, Pixies were in full bash-out mode, playing with a purpose and zeal, proving that they’re anything but a band of yesteryear, reliving former glory. And ultimately, those in the Beacon audience had left their seats and spilled into the aisles, lending to the atmosphere that transcended the ornate walls, making it feel like the whole room had been whisked from its Upper West Side locale to a moonlit rager on the beach. It sure is magnificent when music can do that. —Charles Steinberg

(Pixies play Kings Theatre tomorrow night.)

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Three Chances to See Pixies Performing Live in NYC This Week

May 26th, 2015

With interruptions and turbulence a regularity throughout the Pixies’ nearly 30-year history, the group has reunited to tour in recent years, reinforcing their influence and affirming their legacy. Not much has changed in their approach to playing their visceral and bizarrely seductive collection of punky, surf-rock hits since their mid-’80s beginnings. The raw, scraped-knee energy is still intact, and so are frontman Black Francis’s agonized vocals, which spar with and then soften to linger over Joey Santiago’s shrill guitar textures. Drummer David Lovering still reliably supplies the amplification, together with new bass player Paz Lenchantin, who has slid in seamlessly. They eschew aura and flair, and, of course, the no-nonsense attitude and restrained angst still remain central. Touring behind their fifth studio full-length (and first in 23 years), 2014’s Indie Cindy (stream it below), Pixies (above, performing “Green and Blues” for KEXP FM) return to New York City to play three shows this week: tonight and tomorrow at the Beacon Theatre and on Thursday at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Talented singer-songwriter John Grant opens each night. —Charles Steinberg

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The Pixies Are Still the Real Deal

January 21st, 2014

Pixies – the Capitol Theatre – January 19, 2014

(Photo: Charles Steinberg)

With interruptions and turbulence a regularity throughout the Pixies’ nearly 30-year history, the group has reunited to tour in recent years, reinforcing their influence and affirming their legacy. And on Sunday night at the Capitol Theatre, they put on a retrospective show that ran the gamut of their visceral and bizarrely seductive collection of punky, surf-rock hits. Not much has changed in their approach to playing music since their mid-’80s beginnings. The raw scraped-knee energy is still intact, and so are frontman Black Francis’s agonized vocals, which spar with and then soften to linger over Joey Santiago’s shrill guitar textures. Drummer David Lovering still reliably supplies the amplification, together with new bass player Paz Lenchantin, who slid in seamlessly.

Of course the no-nonsense attitude is still central. The Pixies eschew aura and flair. Dressed in black and lit from behind, they punched out songs with restrained angst, letting the weight of their music take center stage. Toeing the line between atonal cacophony and loose, twangy melodies, the comprehensive set included all of the songs that have defined the Pixies. Classics like “Bone Machine” and “Wave of Mutilation” got the crowd involved early, and after mixing in a couple of new songs, the band geared up for the heart of the show. “Carribou” elicited bellows from the crowd singing along in fervor, which continued into the chorus-driven “Here Comes Your Man.” During “Vamos,” Santiago indulged in a full-on guitar monologue, punctuating and interjecting the steady, up-tempo drum rhythm with shredding, discordant flourishes.

Attention and anticipation built with each song, and in a stroke of calculated brilliance, the performance entered the final act with the epic “Where Is My Mind” and concluded with “Gouge Away,” making a sudden stylistic transition into the scintillating “Debaser.” Throughout their tight professional delivery, there remained a rough rehearsal element that has long marked the Pixies’ style and has always appealed to a large portion of their fan base. But most of all, they proved to be the genuine article. In the current alternative-rock climate of new bands coming and going, searching for identity, the Pixies are a true example to follow. They stepped up and laid it down, showing how it’s done: no fuss, no introduction needed, confident of the path they’ve paved. —Charles Steinberg