Concert Sutra Alive And Well With The Pixies

by terri sapp

Photographed by Leah Yetter

© Concert Sutra, All rights reserved

Kim Deal

click photos for photo gallery

In my teenage years in the late eighties, there were many acts that I longed to see, but never seemed to find the opportunity.  The Pixies were one of them.  Until recently, every time they were around, I could not seem to score tickets!  That is, until Music Midtown 2005 brought the best line up ever.  When I heard the Pixies were going to be playing Music Midtown 2005, I knew I had to be sure not to miss a moment!  Black Francis a.k.a. Frank Black, a.k.a. Charles Thompson (vocals, guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), David Lovering (drums, some vocals), and Joey Santiago (lead guitar, vocals) serenaded the crowded 99x stage with the grace of no other, as they will in their upcoming tour of the world.

They kicked off their headlining performance Saturday Night with “Wave of Mutilation” from the 1989 Doolittle album.  It wasn’t until the start of “Debaser” from Doolittle that we truly heard from bassist, Kim Deal.  I think she must have really turned up the bass for this one.  I have always admired the chemistry between Black and Deal’s vocals.  They blend well.  This is quite evident in Doolitle’s “This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven.”   

Just when I thought that this was going to be the “Doolittle” show, they broke into my all time favorite Pixies song The Pixiesever, “UMASS” from  the last album before the band’s first real break up, 1991’s Trompe le Monde.  I believe they played this one for me… “Oh let it rock!”  It is truly a joy for me to see this band touring together again.  I have been waiting for this moment for over fifteen years!  Pixies, please stay together forever, til you’re old and gray and can’t play another note!!!

“Cactus,” from the 1988 album Surfer Rosa, is one of many songs with terribly troubled lyrics.  “Bloody your hands on a cactus tree, wipe it on your dress and send it to me.”  On a bit lighter note, but from the same album, “Gigantic” gets “big, big love” from the crowd.  I am amazed at Kim Deal’s beautiful vocal quality after seeing that she actually smokes while performing!  Not the first time I’ve seen it, but her voice is so smooth, it is surprising.  Lovering’s drums are also gigantic in this unique love song, along with Santiago’s smoking guitar solo.  Judging from the crowd’s response, this was a favorite moment, thus far.

The bass line on “Tame” (from Doolittle) makes it impossible to be still.  Having such prominent bass is overlooked in Joey Santiagotoo many rock bands.  Deal’s bass and vocal expression is for sure a major part of the Pixies sound.  Black’s vocal antics on “Broken Face” (from Surfer Rosa) are always welcome and help keep the high mood going.  One good cover song, or at least a tease, is a must at a great rock n roll show.  The Jesus and Mary Chain song, “Head On” (Pixies’ version from Trompe le Monde), must have really taken off after the Pixies covered it, because their version rocks HARD!  No denying the brutal familiarity of the lyrics, though, “And all I ever got from you was all I ever took from you.”  Of course, “Hey,” (from Doolittle) is one of the best songs all around, with unmatchable vocals, precise drums, impeccable strumming, and a tender melody.  “Hey” is a deeply emotional song, and commanded the complete attention of this very large festival crowd.  “Gouge Away” ANOTHER from Doolittle set us up to rock the “Subbacultcha” (from Trompe le Monde).  Reminiscent of the Goth scene back in the day… “I was all dressed in black, She was all dressed up in black…I was wearing eyeliner, She was wearing eyeliner.”  Once again, the mix of vocals is so in tune, they seem like one voice.  “Dead” (from Doolittle) is what Black calls a nursery rhyme!  This whole experience has been a “catharsis.”  I respect and crave the honesty of their lyrics, “My blood is working but my heart is dead.”

“Bone Machine” (from Surfer Rosa) is a fun concept.  Only to find out there are more issues revealed,  “I was talking to preachy preach about kissy kiss.  He bought me a soda, he bought me a soda, he bought me a soda.  And he tried to molest me in the parking lot.”  Damn!!  The most appropriate song of the evening, “Stormy Weather,” the one song pulled from the 1990 album Bossanova.  “It is time for stormy weather.”  As we stand the whole time in the rain to hear the Pixies play their beautiful music.  “Caribou” (from the 1987 EP Come on Pilgrim) seems like it is going to be one of those sweet feeling Pixies ballads, then hits you in the face with bass, drums, guitar, and that ever-popular scream.  As they put it in “I Bleed” (from Doolittle), it can get “as loud as hell.”  However, B-side “Into the White” must be the one about death, because Deal’s voice is like an angel’s welcoming you into the white.  I love the guitar on this one.  To change it up some, the drummer, David Lovering, took the mic to sing Doolittle’s “La La Love You.”  Gorgeous, darling.  His voice is dreamy.  Right into another Doolittle romantic classic, “Here Comes Your Man.”  So, this must be Doolittle night on the tour, as we got ten of the fifteen songs off of this whole album.  One twice (more on that later).  I believe they played this one for Leah.  “There is a wait so long, you’ll never wait so long.  Here comes your man.” 

“In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)” from Pixies at the BBC and Complete B Sides promises, “In Heaven, everything is fine.”  Another sweet song featuring Kim Deal.  On the other hand, “Nimrod’s Son” (from Come on Pilgrim) features Black with his recollections of people telling him disturbed things like, “You are the son of incestuous union.”  Hearing lyrics like these help me to understand more of where these people are coming from as lyricists, and why they ask questions like, “Where is my Mind?”  This Surfer Rosa anthem calls attention to a common problem in today’s society, “Your head will collapse if there’s nothing in it, and you’ll ask yourself, “Where is my mind?”  Likewise, Frank BlackI was about to lose my mind, knowing that the night was almost over, and the Pixies would go away, back into Pixie land.  What a note to end on.  You know, that high one that Deal hits behind Black’s wonderfully touching verses.  Everyone was signing along, Deal didn’t really even have to sing, but I’m glad she did, since we came to hear her, not the drunken bandana guy standing next to me…I digress.

I was so happy that they gave a quick encore, just a few more seconds, I’ll take what I can get!  They decided to end the night on the same song as they started, “Wave of Mutilation” only at half the speed.  Black and Deal singing together “Cease to resist, giving my goodbye.  Drive my car into the ocea-a-an.  You think I’m dead, but I sail away (ay, ay, ay, ay) on a wave of mutilation.”  I almost cried, it was so great.  Not even the stormy weather could keep the Pixies lovers away from this one of a kind Music Midtown performance.  Two of the band members were even celebrating birthdays (40 and 44).  What a way to show how a good thing ripens with age.  Even though my favorite Greatest Hits type of collection of Pixies music is called Death to the Pixies, they prove over and over again that they are indeed alive and well.

You have a limited amount of time to catch them in the U.S. before they take their act abroad.  July 7, 2005, they will be in Milwaukee, WI at the Marcus Amphitheatre co-headlining with Weezer, as well as July 9, 2005 in Toronto, Canada at the Molson Amphitheatre.  Of course, the festival not to miss if you can make it is Lollapalooza on July 23, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois.  On July 30, 2005 you can go to Street Scene in San Diego, California, and on August 6, 2005 they will be in Newport, RI for the Newport Folk Festival.  After that, you will have to hit Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, France, England, or Scotland to see the Pixies, at least until the end of August. 

To see how much fun it was to see the Pixies, scroll to the bottom half of the “day two” photos at: