On an unseasonably warm February night last Friday, Portland was treated to an evening that …
I thought I was going to cry during “Where Is My Mind,” but then “Broken Face” almost me there. Black Francis’ true-to-record falcetto, the raw power of the band playing fast and loud together—it nearly broke my face. Start to finish it was a phenomenal performance, but I was surprised by what moved me. That would include the clicks and scratches (Guitar Hero menu sounds for the uninitiated) of Joey Santiago’s Les Paul bleeding through the band’s sudden stops. My heart was also warmed by David Lovering, behind the kit in his sloppy t-shirt and baseball cap while the front of the stage was all posh semi-formal.
There is great precision to their weirdness. Frank Black and Joey Santiago were both relatively statuesque, as though playing the rock version of chamber music. (An extended and animated guitar-cable/pedal board solo from Santiago was the notable exception.) To this end, openers The Orwells were excellent foils––a bunch of handsome young men who seemed happy to be there and easy to get along with playing Strokes-rock like it’s the word of god.
And then the slimy-imy Pixies. They commanded the room with their gritty beauty, 30 second collapses into hardcore punk, and exactly one good haircut. You know what that sounds like… like the Pixies. Bands sound like them now. They’re arguably classic rock–do what you will with that.
All four members did the best job being Pixies. Think of it—there was a time when being a Pixie wasn’t a career. When these people (and Kim Deal and Kim Shattuck) pass on it will never be a job again. Between them, they have a combined sixty-three years experience being Pixies and they carry all that comes with that, an experience we can’t nearly understand because take away the instruments and these are not good communicators. Pixies seem to create because they have a need to connect. That must be why so many of us feel attached to their music.
Tonight’s the last of three Portland shows and then their tour continues on. Here’s to many happy returns and more new records.