Show Review: Pixies @ Austin Music Hall (9/21)

Many of us have waited years for the return of the Pixies.  After a few years of reunion tours, which some of us caught at ACL, we were fortunate enough to book the band for two nights at the Austin Music Hall, playing their legendary album Doolittle in its entirety.

Fuck Buttons opened up the evening working on their laptops.  They’re one of those bands I haven’t ever fully gotten into, though I can acknowledge that despite my distaste, they do a pretty solid job with their genre work. Still, it was a surprising choice for an opening band, and many of the fans didn’t quite seem ready to be “noise-raped,” as someone put it.  They coated the Austin Music Hall with lights, beats and feedback of sorts, then they were gone.

The Pixies began their evening, as promised in our interview with Dave Lovering, with a few B-Sides from the Doolittle era, four of them to be exact.  While these may not have been the opening tracks that some were looking for prior to the band jumping into the full-on album, they definitely made a statement in those first few tracks.  Contrary to their set a few years back in the outdoors of Zilker Park, the venue, surprisingly brought the Pixies back to life, just the way we all imagined.  Lovering pounded on the kit with precision, and the rest of the group just fell in line.

Finally, the band began to open up that record we all came to see them play.  Many of us have spun this album so many times that we had to by multiple copies, and I can still remember hiding in my room listening to it while my friends were digging on West Coast rap.  This was everything we wanted, loud, abrasive, and still melodic.  By the time the group kicked into “Tame,” it became clear that Black Francis still had that sinister growl he always possessed, bordering on demonic and powerful.  Kim Deal, adding in her little breathy “uh-ha-ha” sounded every bit as innocent and girlish as she did when the band recorded back in the 80s.

During “Here Comes Your Man” generous applause roared from the crowd as those opening guitar lines came through the stereo.  It was par for the course on the evening, as each song seemed to get claps and pre-pubescent shouts, even from the elderly statesmen in the audience.  You also had to love Joey Santiago playing the foil to Frank Black’s guitar.  It’s as if they traded licks, fighting for each guitar to win out over the other, but just as it did in its original state, it sounded strong, ready to break down the barriers of alternative radio, which it could easily do today.

They closed out the set with a couple more B-sides, namely “Into the White.”  Filling the auditiorium with fog, you could barely make out the band, aside from rare glimpses at the shadows ringing out the noise on stage, and Kim softly singing in the background. It was a great way to close out the entire evening, but they weren’t quite done.  After completing the Doolittle cycle, they returned for a four song encore.  They rocked my favorite track “Winterlong,” which is a nice little Neil Young cover.  Of course, they also had to offer us up the classics of “Where Is My Mind” and “Gigantic,” the latter closing out the night in glorious fashion.

By the end of the night, I think everyone was satisfied with the performance. The Pixies sounded as vital last night as they probably would have back in the day, and clearly they could wipe the stage with any of their contemporaries, not to mention those cheesy little radio bands out there today.  Here’s the set list:

1) Dance The Manta Ray 2) Weird at My School 3) Baileys Walk 4) Manta Ray 5) Debaser 6) Tame 7) Wave of Mutilation 8 I Bleed 9) Here Comes Your Man 10) Dead 11) Monkey Gone to Heaven 12) Mr. Grieves 13) Crackity Jones 14) La La Love You 15) No. 13 Baby 16) There Goes My Gune 17) Hey 18) Silver 19) Gouge Away  — Encore 1: 1) Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) 2) Into the White  — Encore 2: 1) Winterlong 2)  Break My Body  3) Where Is My Mind 4) Gigantic

Photos provided by the great Mary Rehak.  She has more fancy work on her flickr page.

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