Last month, when a band named after the Pixies song "Debaser" was announced the night before the Pixies were in town to coheadline a tour with Weezer, the hint seemed pretty clear: The Pixies were using an alias, which happened to be the name of one of their most popular songs. Although there was no official confirmation, enough people took a leap of faith to sell out the room. They were amply rewarded with an action-packed set that was almost like a riddle or an SAT math question. How can a rock band play 41 songs in two hours?
The Pixies did it.
An older crowd came out. Many in the audience had probably not been in a situation this cramped and sweaty since their last colonoscopy. It took a while for them to warm up, but a few songs in, they were screaming the memorized lyrics right along with the band. And by the time the Pixies got to some of their most aggressive songs — such as "Holiday" and "Tame" — a mosh pit broke out on the floor.
The Pixies, for the unfamiliar, were a four-piece cult-rock band that grew more popular after they broke up in 1993. Big-name bands like Nirvana and Radiohead cited them as influences, and by the time their song "Where Is My Mind" anchored the final scene in the 1999 movie Fight Club, demand for their reunion grew to epic proportions. Since their reunion in 2004, they've toured fairly regularly and have never put on a dull show.
I've caught them close to ten times since their reunification, and they always go all out, ending each show dripping with perspiration and sounding a thousand times better than my scratched CD of Trompe Le Monde or my mixtape with "Doolittle" and "Surfer Rosa" on it. But this was different. This was bigger and at the same time more intimate.
They were as tight as ever and added some variations, playing both versions of "Wave of Mutilation" and stretching out the intro to "Gouge Away" so that they came as close to a jam band as possible for the Pixies.
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I've met some Pixies truthers who refuse to accept this version of the band because bassist and occasional singer Kim Deal is no longer in the band. Rumor has it she split because of a debate over new material. She didn't want to record it; singer Black Francis, drummer Dave Lovering, and guitarist Joey Santiago did. So they brought aboard Paz Lenchantin as a replacement. Lenchantin had all the bass lines down pat and did a more than adequate Deal impression on the backing vocals. But it felt like a no-win betrayal when she sang Deal's signature song, "Gigantic." The song is so terrific, though, no one had the heart to complain.
After two hours and 40 songs, the bandmates took center stage, joined hands, and bowed. They conversed and then agreed to play one more song. They ripped through "Bone Machine" and took off. Afterward, all I could hear anyone talk about was how they would drive to West Palm to see the Pixies the next night even if it meant they'd also have to hear Weezer.