Tag Archives: Pixies

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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

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The Breeders Play a Pair of Shows at Webster Hall

December 18th, 2013

Kim Deal first rose to fame as bassist and backing vocalist for the Pixies. But while the seminal alternative rockers were touring behind their highly influential debut album, Surfer Rosa, Deal began working on new material fit for a different creative outlet. Since forming the Breeders in 1990, she has remained that band’s lone constant as lead singer and rhythm guitarist—Deal’s currently joined by twin sister Kelley on lead guitar, Jim MacPherson on drums and Josephine Wiggs on bass. The band’s first album, Pod (stream it below), put the Breeders (above, performing for the BBC) on the map and went on to influence the likes of Nirvana. “It’s an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend,” said Kurt Cobain. Nevertheless, the group remained a side project until the Pixies broke up—and although they’re currently back together, Deal is no longer part of the band. But even still, the Breeders went on hiatus in the mid-’90s before reuniting to play several shows in 2001 and release their third LP, Title TK, the following year. But they’re currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of their second full-length, Last Splash (stream it below), by hitting the road again to play full-album shows featuring Last Splash and Pod. Catch them tomorrow and Friday at Webster Hall.

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Good Things Don’t Always Have to Come to an End

September 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

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

(Try to Grow a Pair of tickets to Friday’s sold-out Pixies show at The Bowery Ballroom.)

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Pixies on 9/20

September 17th, 2013

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On the heals of releasing their first new material in more than 20 years (minus some singles along the way), EP1, alt-rock legends the Pixies play four sold-out New York City shows this week at The Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg. And if you got shut out but would still like to be there, try to Grow a Pair of tickets from The House List to see them play The Bowery Ballroom on Friday night. All you have to do is fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Pixies, 9/20) and your best suggestion on how to spend the remaining few nights of summer. Eddie Bruiser, who’s looking for some outdoor suggestions, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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The Breeders Celebrate a Milestone

May 7th, 2013

The Breeders – Webster Hall – May 6, 2013


Kim Deal deserves more credit—much more. Between her years as the bassist of the Pixies and her follow-up career as the lead woman of the Breeders, she’s earned her spot on the short list of rock musicians who have changed the course of music for the better. The last time I saw her perform was for the Pixies’ reunion tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of Doolittle. I remember thinking then if Doolittle had been released that day, it would still have been incredibly well received. Fast-forward four years and I’m watching Deal perform again, this time with the Breeders in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their iconic album, Last Splash, and feeling exactly the same way about this LP. It sounds as fresh today as it must have in ’93. This is for two reasons: The obvious being that each album was way ahead of its time. The other being that the music world we live in today is built on a foundation laid in large part by these two albums. We’d have neither without Kim Deal. We owe her the world.

The best thing about concerts where an album is played in its entirety is that you already know what to expect. So last night at Webster Hall no one had to wait for the distorted opening or the drumstick taps to know “Cannonball” was about to barrel its way through the venue. The arrangement of an album works out as well live as it does etched in record grooves. “Do You Love Me Now?” fits in perfectly as a concert’s midpoint as it does as the LP’s halfway mark. With it’s brittle arrangement, the song’s sparse instrumentation seems there only to hold up Deal’s soft-spoken vocals. The crawling guitar riffs are there at first only as embellishment to her tender singing. And even having heard the song hundreds of times, when it explodes with Deal’s sudden delivery of the loud plea “Come back to me right now!” it still has the power to turn up hairs.

It was sad to hear the ending reprises of “Roi” knowing that the show was ending the same way as Last Splash, but the band came back out to play through a hefty seven-song encore that was long enough to feel like the second act of the show. The encore included a Guided By Voices cover (“Shocker in Gloomtown”), a Beatles cover (“Happiness Is a Warm Gun”) and some non-Last Splash Breeders favorites. So happy 20th birthday, Last Splash! Enough time has passed that it’s now OK to consider its legacy. And hopefully the world fully realizes how incredible of an album this is and that those who crafted it get their rightful place in rock history. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Stephanie F. Black | www.flickr.com/photos/blackfrances

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Interpol Drummer Sam Fogarino’s EmptyMansions at Mercury Lounge

April 26th, 2013

Sam Fogarino is best known as the drummer for NYC’s own Interpol, but while they were touring in support of their 2010’s self-titled album, he was plugging away, writing songs that revealed his many influences—in literature, TV and especially music (like Neil Young, Stones, Pixies). Fogarino ended up recording the material with guitarist Duane Denison (of Tomahawk, among others) and producer and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Curtis (the Secret Machines), who handled bass, keys and backing vocals. The end result was the noise rock–filled Snakes/Vultures/Sulfate (stream it below), out earlier this month. The trio kicked off a tour in support of it earlier this week, which brings EmptyMansions (above, their video for “That Man”) to Mercury Lounge to play the early show tomorrow night.

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Bob Mould Plays The Bowery Ballroom Tonight and Tomorrow

February 26th, 2013

In the music world, if people know you’re name from even just one project, there’s a pretty good chance you’re doing something right. And if audiences recognize you for two influential bands (one of them iconic) plus an acclaimed solo career, well, you just might be Bob Mould. Raised in rural Upstate New York, he headed to college in Minnesota, ultimately making a home in the Twin Cities and forming Hüsker Dü—Mould on guitar and vocals, Grant Hart on drums and vocals, and Greg Norton on bass—in the late ’70s. Initially a thrashing punk band, their sound grew more melody driven but not any quieter. And while they didn’t find the success of R.E.M., they became indie-rock pioneers, paving the way for groups like the Pixies, Superchunk and Nirvana. But alas, for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t meant to last, and Hüsker Dü broke up while on tour in 1987.

So Mould went solo, releasing the excellent Workbook two years later. It was a big departure from his previous work, with much of the album acoustic with a strong folk bent. Another solo effort followed before he again formed a power trio—with David Barbe on bass and Malcolm Travis on drums—the more radio friendly Sugar. Their debut LP, Copper Blue, out in ’92, earned applause from critics and fans alike. But by 1995, Mould had ended the band and gone it alone again. He’s dutifully recorded more material and toured ever since. And his tenth solo album, the well-received Silver Age (stream it below), came out last year. Watch Bob Mould, above, performing “Keep Believing” on Conan and then go see him live at The Bowery Ballroom tonight and tomorrow, where he’ll play selections from Silver Age, Hüsker Dü, Sugar and his solo classics.

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Close Out Your Weekend with Titus Andronicus

November 30th, 2012

Since forming in 2005, indie punkers Titus Andronicus have earned comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Bright Eyes and the Pixies. Rolling Stone has even gone as far as to say they “may be the most ambitious punk band in America.” Not too shabby, right? Following the release of their second album, the much-praised The Monitor, the five-piece went through some lineup changes. But now they’ve returned with an equally ambitious third LP, Local Business (stream it below). The new tunes were all road tested earlier in the year before Titus Andronicus (above, doing “In a Big City” for Pitchfork TV) headed to New Paltz, N.Y., to recreate their high-energy stage act in the studio. And now you can see them live
at Webster Hall on Sunday night.

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This Double Bill at Webster Hall Might Get Loud

July 31st, 2012

From the beginning Toadies had a revolving lineup anchored by Todd Lewis (vocals and guitar) and Mark Reznicek (drums). The Fort Worth, Texas, band’s post-grunge sound is influenced by the Pixies and pychedelic-tinged Southern rock. And their “Possum Kingdom” was undoubtedly one of the biggest songs to erupt from the grunge explosion left in Nirvana’s wake. Despite lasting so long, Toadies (above, doing “No Deliverance”) don’t just mine their past. In fact the group’s fifth album, Play.Rock.Music, is out today.

Page Hamilton moved from Oregon to New York City to learn jazz guitar in the ’80s. But upon discovering distortion through the likes of Sonic Youth, he moved in a different direction, founding Helmet in 1989. With a raw sound and Hamilton’s snarling vocals, Helmet (below, performing “See You Dead”), in earning comparisons to Soundgarden, was the only East Coast band playing what would soon be labeled grunge. The group’s fierce sound remains to this day, and, along with Toadies, they play Webster Hall on Thursday.

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See the Pixies on 10/27

October 25th, 2011

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When the Pixies come to town, you’ve got to act fast if you want to get tickets, which means their show on Thursday at The Wellmont Theatre sold out a long time ago. But the good news is that The House List is giving away two tickets. So if you’d still like to go, try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Pixies, 10/27) and a brief message explaining which Pixies album is your favorite. Eddie Bruiser, who has trouble choosing, will notify the winner on Thursday.

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