WRITTEN BY: NICK ROMANO
Witnessing a major alternative rock influence perform live is quite a treat. Those who are fans of bands like Nirvana, The Strokes, or Radiohead owe it to The Pixies for its contribution to the music of the ‘90s. Last Tuesday, The Pixies played quite the musical score at The Electric Factory playing a total of 35 songs in a little under 2 hours. The Pixies left it all on the stage as there were seconds in between each song.
The opening act of the evening was Cymbals Eat Guitars. Prior to the show, I’ve never listened to the band, but from simply catching the tail end of its set left me excited to hear more. Cymbals Eat Guitars (I’ll call them CEG for short) has a way of building up the tension of its sound before throwing it all in your face with epic shredding guitar riffs and drum fills that have your head glued to the stage. The frontman, Joseph D’Agostino’s crushed the set. The amount of never-ending energy he had on stage could land him a deal as the new Energizer Bunny. check out CEG’s music. For all you adventurous millennials out there, Cymbals Eat Guitars could be a good fit to add to the soundtrack to your life.
When it was time for The Pixies to take the stage, you could feel the energy in the room start to mount. The stage was nothing spectacular but the sets of global trusses that sat behind the band looked like something out of Monday Night Raw. If you don’t know what a global truss is, that’s okay because I didn’t either. Look it up, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, The Pixies opener was Planet of Sound which is basically The Pixies in a nutshell. The strong basslines of Paz Lenchantin rumbling throughout the verses were echoed by a chorus of loud high pitch guitar tearing through the air. The set never let up. The quick breaks between songs transformed The Pixies’ musical catalog into a legendary punk pop score.
The set was everything a Pixies fan could ask for. They played everything I wanted to hear like, “Wave of Mutilation,” “Debaser,” (my favorite) and their most successful hit “Where is my Mind?.” The performance was nothing short of perfection. It was as if someone burned a Pixies playlist to a CD and popped it into to the Electric Factory’s sound system.
While the music was crisp and masterful, Black Francis’ vocals sounded fresh and unfrayed. I would bet that any long-time Pixies fan who has seen the band perform in its early days wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Francis’ vocals then and his performance last Tuesday.
Sure, I was happy to hear what I wanted to hear. But attending a concert isn’t about what I want to hear or else I’d never attend any live music event. Within the band’s set of 35 songs, a few lesser known songs caught my ear. Songs like “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and the smoked-out encore “Into the White,” had me hooked in a way that wouldn’t have happened by listening to studio albums. Every music fan has had those moments of reckoning when they hear a song on the album that wasn’t appealing until they heard it live.
My final word on the evening ends with an appreciation for the performance of guitarist Joey Santiago during the song “All the Saints,” where he somehow modified his guitar to control the sound. A friend of mine that was also at the show explained to me how he modified the pickups on his guitar to create a tremolo sound by using the toggle switch. The creativity and imagination presented by Santiago made chuckle and shake my head as I tried to understand what goes on inside a person’s mind to develop such a technique.
Upon leaving the doors of the Electric Factory I knew that the show I just witnessed was an authentic Pixies experience. They played the hits but stuck to their guns. The pinnacle bass lines weren’t drowned out by lightning guitar. Nothing fancy just good old Pixies-fashion music.