I almost felt guilty attending a Pixies show.
While waiting for my bus home after seeing the foundational indie rockers with a sold-out viewing party, a man of drunken instinct approached me. He engaged — somewhat forcefully — in a conversation about attending the “Doolittle” 20th anniversary show from the Pixies in Chicago with his daughter in 2009. He also said he attended Friday night’s LC show in Columbus with similar kin.
He mentioned he was 46, which would imply that he was into the Pixies when they were a “thing,” not a reunion act. He’s of the same generation as Pixies’ core members, thus having the pleasure of being a part of the band’s legacy. The most important part of this to me, however, is the fact that the Pixies are a relevant enough force in this man’s life that he wants to experience it with those for which he cares greatly.
That was unlike this reporter, who absorbed Pixies originally as if it were a profound library act, something to which I listen because “someone told me that this band was good.”
That’s sort of an indication to how I initially felt Friday night as a millennial in a deluge of a largely older, “true fan” crowd at the show’s beginning. My thoughts surrounding my attachment to these songs were superficial, the connection there only because I felt it ought to be given how iconic Pixies have become.
That feeling was brief. Opener “Bone Machine” appealed instantly to the id of my being. This was just the beginning, though, as this was expanded upon shortly with “Wave of Mutilation.” In less than 10 minutes, the Pixies had arrived.
Whether its glory days are behind or before it, Pixies delivered a set that was as full of vigor as any of its recordings. “Doolittle” cuts soared above the rest in audience popularity, namely “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Gouge Away” and “Here Comes Your Man” — all obvious crowd pleasers, but truly, these were the tracks for which Columbus showed up.
Although it lacks its original bassist, the other Pixies members on stage performed with a talent that has hardly diminished, far from what I would’ve expected given the group’s ‘80s heyday. As exemplified in its performance of “Hey,” the voice of lead singer/guitarist Black Francis is just as stark as Pixies’ earlier work, on point with every croon and shrill. Credit should also be given to lead guitarist Joey Santiago, who perfectly matched the frontman’s precision.
Friday’s concert could have been left without cuts from Pixies’ recent “EP1” and “EP2.” The performances of “Bagboy” and “Blue Eyed Hexe” were grating, seeming to bank on the crowd being pumped from older songs played previously. Though a minor issue with the show, these songs served as a burst pimple in an otherwise fine concert.
Escaping the vitality of Pixies was implausible. Blockbuster hits like “Where Is My Mind?” and the encore’s “Debaser” were clear highlights, the latter of which actually warranted crowd surfers. Even though these songs are probably played again and again in a similar sequence throughout the tour, they carried on with urgency and verisimilitude, comparable to a band half its age (or themselves, 20-plus years ago).
In thinking about seeing the Pixies in 2014, when the band is a relatively new discovery of mine, it sparks an intuitive and mildly clichéd sense of timelessness in music. The reality is that in this case, I and perhaps others my age are not going to listen to Pixies the same way as those in prior decades, but we can still have superb experiences with it all the same. Concerts such as the one Friday certainly allow that to transpire.