Review & Photos | The Pixies | Oakland

Images by: Sterling Munksgard
Words by: Jared Nangle

The Pixies :: The Fox Theater :: 2.21.14 :: Oakland, CA

Check out Jared's review below Sterling's gallery!

As alt-rock legends The Pixies took the stage on Friday, February 21 at the Fox Theater in Oakland, the absence of their original bassist, Kim Deal, agitated the small hole in many fans of the group’s hearts that opened when she left the band in 2013. It was only a matter of seconds before drummer David Lovering broke into the opening beat of Surfer Rosa’s opener, “Bone Machine,” and the crowd forgot all of the band’s past drama and immediately immersed themselves in the music.

Black Francis (Frank Black, Charles, whatever you want to call him) and gang started off strong with fan favorites like, “Bone Machine,” “Wave of Mutilation” and “U-Mass.” The front man’s voice took a while to warm up, leaving his famous screams out of the mix for a bit until he got comfortable. The audience also took some time to warm up to the band, who in typical Pixies fashion seemed slightly unengaged. Some audience members seemed to think their place in the crowd was more important than what was happening on stage, which caused many riffs between the drunk and sober. It wasn’t until the Pixies played the insanely manic pairing of “Mr. Grieves” and “Crackity Jones” that most in the Oakland crowd arrived on the same wavelength. Those who had stood completely still for the first part of the show couldn’t help but move their head, and Black Francis couldn’t help but smile in between the two songs. Francis had his powerful, gut- wrenching voice back in full force. He knew he had the crowd right where he wanted them, and he never let go.

From there on, the setlist was a seamless blend of songs from Surfer Rosa, Come on Pilgrim, Doolittle, Trompe le Monde, and a handful of new tunes from their recent releases EP 1 and EP2. With a setlist so expansive (33 songs), the Pixies were able to showcase material from the majority of their career and please both hardcore and newer fans. Whatever kind of fan you were, it was hard not to leave the venue with a greater appreciation of what this band is doing. After years of ups and downs, the Pixies manage to still get on stage and play with as much soul as they did at the peak of their career. While their grey hair shows their age, with closed eyes, it would be hard to hear the difference.

After years of screaming at the top of his lungs, you’d think Black Francis’s voice would deteriorate, but honestly, he sounds the exact same. Joey Santiago still manipulates his guitar with ease, bring a smoothness to his heavy distortion that makes the Pixies sound so unique. David Lovering still plays the drums as tight as ever. He is the reason they are able to pull off the Pixies’ famous “Loud, Quiet, Loud” format and keep the audience in suspense. His performance of “La La Love You” also seemed to be a fan favorite on Friday. The current touring bassist, Paz Lenchantin, knew exactly where she was standing, and knew that she’d never be able to fill the shoes of beloved bassist and vocalist, Kim Deal. That being said, she did an amazing job and sounded great (exactly like Kim in a lot of ways). She was respectful of the music icons that stood next to her and played their music without too much flare and was a non- distracting presence on stage.

After the band closed with “Vamos” (and Joey Santiago wore his guitar backwards, upside down, on his head, behind him - everywhere really) the band took their bows to an enormous roar from the crowd, and didn’t even leave the stage before they kicked off their encore with fan-favorite “Debaser.” They followed with “Head On,” a Jesus and Mary Chain cover. Then, the clock struck 11 and all of the sudden the house lights were turned on. The band was cut off in the middle of their song “Planet of Sound.” However, that didn’t stop Black Francis. He looked angrily past the crowd to the sound guy, then looked at his band mates. With little hesitation, the group jumped right back into the song, with more intensity than I had seen from them all night. It was quite a spectacle. All of the house lights were on, people were going to leave, and the Pixies were on stage, jumping right back into a hard-core punk jam.

Watching them go over time meant a lot to me personally (I’m sure others as well). For me, I felt like I was watching a band who had done this millions of times before, but still wanted to give their audience everything they had, even after the audience had applauded them uproariously. The Pixies would spare their fans nothing, and we are eternally grateful.

JamBase | Loud, Quiet, Loud
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[Published on: 2/26/14]

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