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November 19, 2004

Oh My Golly: or What a gas it was to see them

By popular demand...

Lawrence Avenue outside the Aragon Ballroom on Wednesday night (the Pixies' fifth straight sell-out night at the 4,500-capacity venue) had the feel of pilgrimage. Arriving just minutes ahead of opener Urge Overkill's set, I found the line to be frisked stretching under the Red Line. Men, women and children of all ages had gathered for what most had written off as an impossible dream since the band's breakup-via-fax in '93...

The Pixies: Fat and Fabulous 2004.

The night was nearly ruined for a few by a ridiculous and unexpected prohibition on cameras. A friend had to run back to her car (a 20-minute walk away) to stash hers before they'd let her in, getting back barely in time for the Pixies to take the stage. I don't quite get the reasoning here, though I suppose they just might not like us documenting Frank and Kim in all their agèd corpulence. If my cell phone were a bit more deluxe, I might've snapped a few shots to share out of spite. But, alas, I remain stuck in the dark ages.

Not to get too distracted from the Rock 'n' Roll, though...

The show itself was flat out outstanding.

They throttled through virtually their entire catalogue (notably absent, oddly enough: "Oh My Golly") with great efficiency, stopping only occassionally and just briefly enough to allow Kim Deal to mutter something incomprehensible to the crowd: "Blah, blah, Urge Overkill;" "Squack, squack, Steve Albini." The only song from the regular set that I recall possibly going into extra innings was "Gigantic," their finale, the ending of which they may have drawn out so to offer some goodbyes. Little fuss, less muss.

Encore featured "Here Comes Your Man" (during which a handful of half-wits bolted for the exit so as to beat the traffic) and an extended "Vamos" featuring over-the-top guitar and effects pedal voodoo by Joey Santiago and a brief drum solo from Dave Lovering.

They rocked impressively sharp and surprisingly hard for a crew of geriatrics (pushing 40), their sound managing to fully overtake the cavernous Aragon. I'd been a little worried during Urge Overkill's set, which was far too screechy for my tastes, but the Pixies' more generous sound held up nicely under the faux Spanish facades, the vocals occassionally drowned out by the heavy wash of guitar and bass—nevertheless, el Francisco Negro can howl like the devil. Bottom line: they rocked even those of us in the far back—hard—and I found myself not caring in the least that the sightlines at the Aragon are shit.

On top of all this, the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves at least as much as the audience appreciated this opportunity to see the Fucking Pixies, live. Have any of them have ever played for crowds as rapt and adoring as those they've encountered on this tour? They seemed appreciative. And by all accounts they seem to be getting along famously, which is lovely to see. Now they're talking about a new album, possibly produced by Tom Waits... uhh, eventually.

Highlight of the night: Tough to pick, as there was nothing remotely disappointing, but one tune from early in their set stands out in my memory. It might've just been the vibes from Deal's booty-rocking bass, but I felt some goddamn chills during "Where is My Mind." It was only the third or fourth song they played, but I experienced just about as transcendent a moment as I think I've felt at any musical performance. And not once did I think about Fight Club. Float away with me, won't you:

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?

Punning linkage:

The Tribune: Lively, laughing Pixies ride wave of adoration
Slate: Back to Black
Too many to list: Here Comes Your Band

"Oh My Golly: or What a gas it was to see them"
Posted by Dan at 05:12 PM


Referenced in this post:

Aragon Ballroom
Camera Phone Photo Blog
David Lovering
Google: 'Here Comes Your Band'
IMDb: Fight Club
Iconoduel: Nothing to See Here—Comments
Low Culture: Where Are My Feet?
NME: Pixies new album warning
Samsung's Digital World: SGH-E100
Slate: Back to Black: The long-anticipated Pixies reunion—Alex Abramovich