Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Cultural Diversion: The Pixies 

It's been awhile since I wrote one of these "Diversions," but it's been awhile since I've seen or read or heard anything as compelling as the baseball we've seen recently. Friday night's Pixies concert at the Dodge Theatre, however, merits a few words here.

For those unfamiliar with them, the Pixies released 4 albums in the late-80s/early-90s. Their alternative rock was always more cited for its influence (Nirvana, Radiohead) than for its popularity. They broke up about 10 years ago amid band tensions (as if bands break up for any other reason) and news of their reunion was met with great excitement amongst their fans. Think of the Beatles re-forming in, say, 1978. That would've approximated the impact (albeit on a much, much larger scale) of the announcement.

I was never a big Pixies fan. I liked their two big hits -- "Here Comes Your Man" and "Velouria" -- and was familiar with some of their other stuff, but I'm sure I had a few opportunities to see them in college and never bothered once. But based on the great reviews from their initial spring tour, I thought I'd take a chance.

And what a show they put on. It was a 90-minute show with very little banter, though the band appeared to be in a good mood, especially Kim Deal and her goofy inter-song smile. What struck me about the band during the concert was how the Pixies did the quiet/loud dichotomy of Nirvana (and countless imitators) before Nirvana and were just as good as Radiohead at building up tension, then releasing it. I also had never appreciated how good the band is as a band -- really good musicianship -- and how they had so many overlapping layers in their songs. Kim Deal and Black Francis don't sing duets in an Everly Brothers way, but their voices are just another pair of instruments making up the whole.

I knew I was enjoying myself when about 10 minutes into the show I said to my concert-going partner, "This is reeeeealllly good," while wearing what must've been a very silly grin.

In the end, the concert made me reevaluate my whole lukewarm response to the band and is sending me in search of their albums. There's not much more you can ask from a concert.

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