Pixies. Photo: Daniel Jackson
I wouldn’t want to be a band many regard as revolutionary that reunited for a bunch of fans that seemed to only want to hear “the hits.” I say that because Boston indie rock group Pixies seem to get a lot of flack for making new albums. It’s pretty dumb to think that the band would ever make Surfer Rosa again, or that they’d want to continue touring the songs of Doolittle for the next twenty years. I can’t lie, I’m a Pixies fan through and through and I could go the rest of my life without hearing “Monkey Gone To Heaven” live. On their last two albums, Indie Cindy and last year’s Head Carrier, the band dropped two pretty solid records while “fans” complained about everything from the fact that Kim Deal is gone to seemingly invalid complaints about the last two albums. However, in spite of that, the four-piece that inspired Nirvana and Radiohead made their way over to the lawn at White Oak Music Hall on Sunday to give those in attendance a show they’d never forget. What we received was a band that can still perform admirably while mixing in fan favorites alongside new tracks better than they did twenty years ago.
Black Francis of Pixies. Photo: Daniel Jackson
It should be noted that there was plenty of “fan servicing” done with this set. There’s nothing wrong with that, as the band sounds stellar from the beginning to the end, and while there was literally no stage banter from the band, no one around me seemed to mind. Opening with “Cactus,” the group then launched into two oddly chosen slow tracks “All the Saints” from their latest album Head Carrier and then the instrumental “Ana” from Bossanova. They would then go deep into fan favorites like “Here Comes Your Man,” “Vamos,” and “Nimrod’s Son.” The audience had cameras on their cellphones rolling along until the band broke out the best live version of “Winterlong” I’ve heard in the five times I’ve caught them. The addition of Paz Lenchantin really gave the track a fresh new voice and honestly sounded better than it did when I saw the original lineup perform it in the ’90s.
Black Francis of Pixies. Photo: Mars Forse Walker
They would follow up with “Gouge Away” before playing another newer song, “Oona,” where it was lovely to hear another new song added to the mix of the set. This was followed by Lenchantin’s lead vocals of “All I Think About Now” before the band found themselves back in the past performing the raucous “Debaser” from Doolittle. The set would continue like this with another new song, “Bel Esprit,” only to be followed by another favorite, “Wave of Mutilation.” The band seemed to really just truck through the songs without much emotion, but they’ve never really been the group to do that. In fact, I can’t remember ever seeing a Pixies set where the band addressed the crowd much at all. “Talent” off of Head Carrier would get very little response from the crowd who seemed to get as excited as imaginable when “Monkey Gone to Heaven” kicked off. One of my new favorites, “Classic Masher,” sounded pretty fantastic out on the lawn at White Oak. Hearing the new tracks sprinkled in was a nice touch before they played “Velouria” and “Havalina,” before switching gears to perform “Mr Grieves.”
Joey Santiago of Pixies. Photo: Mars Forse Walker
Adding another favorite of mine, “Indie Cindy,” it felt like the band, who is said to be playing without a set list, was really just trying to keep things interesting for everyone, including themselves. The crowd erupted into a frenzy when they played “Where Is My Mind” before looking shocked when that was followed with “Caribou” and “U-Mass.” It should certainly be noted that this version of the Trompe Le Monde classic sounded the best it’s sounded live in years. While it may be presumptuous to say that there were many “casual” fans in attendance, this was proven further that only about half of the audience seemed to know the words to “Hey,” and “No. 13 Baby,” and they didn’t seem to be back onboard until the band closed out their set with “Bone Machine.”
The band took center stage and collectively bowed to the audience before performing one last song, the B-side and fan favorite “Into The White,” sung admirably and beautifully by Lenchantin. The overall set was notably epic as far as Pixies sets go. The band played songs, both new and old, on the lawn at White Oak to casual and diehard fans, all the while reminding us that they’re still going strong.
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