with The Thrills
Orlando, FL • 10/10/04
Jen CrayThere would have been no alternative rock revolution in the 1990s, and Nirvana would not have existed, were it not for the Pixies. Formed in 1987, the Boston quartet were an amalgam of punk rock, science fiction, and elite intellectualism. Unfortunately, just as soon as they appeared into the lives and unto the stereos of so many of us music fans starved for something new and different, they were gone. In 1993 frontman/guitarist/lyricist Black Francis (also known as Frank Black, or Charles Thompson to his parents) orchestrated one of the coldest, and most passive breakups in history: legend has it that he faxed the other members of the band to inform them that the Pixies were no more.
Fast forward 11 years and I am standing at the edge of the stage, at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, FL, inches away from the reunited Pixies. All original members, Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering, decided to set aside a decade’s worth of bad blood to give the people what they want: An hour and a half of history in the making as one of the greatest, most innovative punk bands revitalize 3,500 fans desperate for the next alternative rock revolution.
There is no new album to promote, and so the set plays out like a best-of from the band’s short six-year term. Every song ignites the crowd from the opening chords of “Bone Machine,” to the singalong melody of “Here Comes Your Man, to the explosive energy of “Tame.” The band transitions from one classic song to the next, with barely a breath in between.
They communicate to one another with body language more than words. When lead guitarist Santiago sets his guitar on a stand and conducts an unusual, and comical, guitar solo via the pedals and one of Lovering’s drumsticks, the rest of the band smiles with approval as they sit and watch from the drum riser. Smiles could be seen glowing through the smoke and lights throughout the show; in fact I don’t think bassist Kim Deal ever stopped smiling. She’s the only bassist I know of who can smile, play, sing, and smoke a cigarette simultaneously. Let’s face it, she’s one of the coolest chicks in the world.And the Pixies are one of the coolest bands in the world. Who else can get away with playing two versions of the same song within the same set?! “Wave of Mutilation” was performed not once, but twice — the faster paced album track off Doolittle, and the slow and moody remix from the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack. It’s arrogant, it’s confident, it’s just too cool!
As the show closes, the band set down their instruments and approach the edge of the stage to allow for the sold out crowd to shower them in applause. Black Francis walks across the stage, looking out over the ocean of hands and faces, smiling. He seems on one hand to expect the standing ovation they are receiving, but also seems a little amazed that this band he started so many years ago has affected so many people.
For the encore we are blessed with one of the only Kim Deal-singing-lead songs in the Pixies collection, “Gigantic.” No one wants this night to end. As the band leaves the stage the crowd seems more alive than ever, screaming, begging, for more. But the lights come up and just that fast, the Pixies are gone again.
Will this reunion last? Will I have to wait another 11 years to seem them play again? And the question on everyone’s minds, are they doing it for the money? The answer: I don’t know and I don’t care. It was enough to seem them once.
More photos at www.jencray.com/bands_live.htm