September 24th, 2010
Back in June, when Up on the Sun music editor Martin Cizmar put up a blog post announcing that the Pixies would be playing an upcoming show at the Mesa Amphitheater there was one point in the post that I kept coming back to. Martin wrote, "That means you will soon have the chance to be underwhelmed by the band's show in person."
Now, for the record I don't always agree with what Martin says (Bon Iver, overrated?) but for the most part I find him to be usually pretty spot-on with his assessments. Not to mention the fact that I had never seen the Pixies live up until this point, so he did have the benefit of experience. But this was, after all, the Pixies -- one of the most important alternative rock bands of all time. There is no way that a live performance from them could be underwhelming, right?
Well, not exactly.
To say that the Pixies performance was underwhelming might be a bit too strong. Mostly satisfactory would probably be a more accurate description. That is to say it wasn't bad but it wasn't completely blow-you-away-good, either.
Part of the problem was that other than Kim Deal, who did most of the talking during the night and genuinely seemed to be enjoying herself, none of the other members of the group seemed to have much enthusiasm and looked as if they were just going through the motions. Though, it's not as if the group is exactly known for their overwhelming charisma and stage presence.
But judging from the audience's reaction last night, this lack of enthusiasm didn't bother them much, if at all. Last night's performance was a nostalgia trip and on that front the Pixies more than delivered. With the 21st anniversary of their seminal album, Doolittle, the band is spending this latest tour playing the album front to back. Of course, when you consider that the total length of this record is only barely over 38 minutes it makes sense that they'd throw in some b-sides to help pass the time.
"Some of these b-sides are so obscure we had to learn them to play them," said Kim Deal. It was pretty clear which b-sides the band played were more obscure than others by the crowd's response but when they launched into Doolittle with the song "Debaser" the place went nuts. Other highlights of the night came when the band played some of their more well known songs off of Doolittle like "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Here Comes Your Man."
While the premise of the show was to play Doolittle in its entirety the group also showcased some other of their big hits as well. "We've got other songs," said Deal at the beginning of their second encore. It was actually with these songs that the Pixies got their biggest reactions of the night as they closed out the night with "Where Is My Mind?" and a pretty awesome performance of their song "Gigantic" which got just about everyone in the crowd dancing and singing along.
It's not hard to see why 21 years later, there is still such a demand to see the Pixies perform Doolittle live. It's just a great album filled with great songs. What is better is that the group recognizes that the demand is still there and they come through for their fans. Sure, the show wasn't in my opinion mind-blowingly good but it was still pretty good and the fans got their mon
keys worth. What more could you ask for?
Personal Bias: I consider Doolittle to be one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time.
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The Crowd: Pretty mixed: aging alt-rockers, indie hipsters, mohawk sporting punks and some hippies, too.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Debaser!" yelled repeatedly in my right ear by the people behind me. Even after the band had already played that song they stilled yelled "Debaser" as loud as they could.
Random Notebook Dump: My notes regarding the opening band Fuck Buttons: Fuck Buttons? More like Fucking Awful.