Images by: Sterling
Words by: Jared Nangle
The Pixies :: The Fox Theater ::
:: 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
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
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,
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.
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