After the Pixies wrapped their final song from Doolittle, “Gouge Away”, Kim Deal kinda tried to personally thank as many people in the Vancouver Orpheum Theatre audience as possible. It was ridiculously cute.
Assembled were hardcore fans who’d been through Pixies Vol. 1 era in the late 80s, plus fascinated aging hipsters, as well as preps and youngsters who felt driven to attend by the sense of occasion: THE REFORMED PIXIES ARE PLAYING ALL OF DOOLITTLE IN ORDER AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! CLASSIC ALBUM! TEENHOOD ANGST REVISITED! WHEEEEEEEEEE!. It was the latter camp – I’ve got my tent in the first two – who looked mildly confused. They knew they should be there, but once the band blasted off with four obscure B-sides, they weren’t sure why. But never mind. There was more than enough love in the room….
…and half of it actually felt like it came from the stage, which is weird and something I never thought I’d write about a Pixies show. Once the four-piece had slung down their instruments (which they did three times), Kim walked from one side of the stage to the other, leaning over the ledge, waving her hands as if they were quacking ducks, and shoutspeaking “THANKS FOR COMIN’ TO THE SHOW”. She did this…oh, upwards of 30 times. It was a sweet moment, and one of many.
Here’s my story, and a big fat, honest caveat: I was never a huge Pixies fan. I really dug them, sure. But they kinda scared me. Felt aggressive. Bit ugly. Were, perhaps, a couple of years ahead of where I was at, musically, when I saw them – yes, I saw them back then – in 1989. While they were actually playing Doolittle in front of me, then, I was looking forward to seeing Love and Rockets and The Cure. (Holy shithot triple bill right?) But anyway. Here we are, oh, 22 years later…and last night the Pixies blew my (where is my) mind.
Was it the opening bars of badass Kim Deal bass on “Debaser”? (Don’t know about you, but I am UNe CHIEN… ANDALOU..sia!) The warped barks, yelps and shouts of the famous (pick one) Charles Thompson/Frank Black/Black Francis as he railed through the wicked “Crackity Jones”, “Tame” or “There Goes My Gun” ? How about the trippy surf punk of Kim, belting out “Into the White” in one of the encores? The Neil Young cover of “Wintersong”? “Cactus” or the lightning fast “Broken Face” from Surfer Rosa? A dorky “La La Love You” as David sang and Charles whistled? Amazing lights and screen images, including giant evil babies, bobbing heads (during the flawless “Here Comes Your Man”) dancing hearts, giant lyrics to “Hey”, dripping blood? Or was it the pristine sound of Charles’ guitar?
Yeah, it was all that.
But it was also Kim being goofy: with a constant and wide grin, she bobbed from foot to foot in her workmanlike black skater gear and joked “Hey, we’re nearly done…albums were shorter back then,” and “hope you don’t mind the B-sides. We had to learn them.” Or Kim asking “Hey, David wants to know who won…the Canucks?” And David, when Charles looked confused, miming the action for hitting a hockey puck to vast very-Canadian cheers. It was Joey Santiago spinning his jacket around like a flag and pretending his guitar was his voice (and making silly faces to go along with it, then apologizing, “Sorry, Kim, I know you hate when I do that shit”). And it was Charles just sounding…so much like Black Francis. Which. Is. Awesome.
In the end it was about the band looking happy, sounding amazing and sharing that warmth. When Kim wanted to “break it down” during the final moments of their very last song “Gigantic” so that she could individually wish each of her bandmates goodnight before she “went to bed and didn’t want to forget”, I was grinning as wide as she was. And when Charles retweeted me after the show and said “Many thanks, Rider ” my brain dripped out of my ears.
I’m long since scared of the Pixies, and I’m glad I caught up with them. And hey, Kim,Charles, Joey and David? Thanks for playin’ the show. \m/
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