Tag Archives: Kim Deal

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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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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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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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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