SunFest Day Five: Pixies Waste No Time While Matisyahu Invites Crowd Onstage

On Sunday, mobs of people of all sizes, shapes, and levels of sobriety plodded along the West Palm Beach waterfront to get their food, drink, art, and — most important — music at SunFest. Sonically, there was something for nearly everyone. Gray-bearded rockers could sway to the classic sounds of Boston while peach-fuzzed teens bounced to Fall Out Boy.

On the final day of what has been a dry and environmentally ideal SunFest, the clouds threatened, and late in the afternoon, a few heavy drops of water fell from the sky. But luckily, the rain was brief and Sunday still managed to keep the sun in SunFest. 

The FPL stage at the south end of the fenced-off streets focused on reggae. Folks lined up on the pier to watch Matisyahu crowd-surf as he spread vibes of positivity. Those on the pier were pretty much the only fans who didn’t make it onstage to join him as he invited people to stand by him for his last song. 
The centrally located Tire Kingdom stage hosted the festive ’80s cover band the Spazmatics and the German electronic folk of Milky Chance.

With 15 acts taking the three stages throughout the day, it wasn't hard for every critic to find a favorite performer. For many at SunFest (including myself), that was the Pixies. The legendary act went on in the middle of the day and chose not to fuck around in its first South Florida performance in more than a decade. They did not say a single word to the audience. There was no witty bantering and no acknowledgments — save the four members bowing after the finale of “Hey.” Instead, the legendary indie four-piece rip-roared through a 75-minute block of 23 songs, which — for those of you without a calculator handy — comes out to almost a song every three minutes.

The Pixies are notorious for cutting all fat or dead spots from their sets, and the band has never been confused with being a jam band. But on this set, Pixies played around with some old favorites. Opener “U-Mass” had a stretched-out instrumental intro. When Frank Black finally sung, it wasn’t as rapidly as the recorded version but rather with a laid-back drawl. “Nimrod’s Son” also had a verse where the tempo went down to a countrified Tennessee waltz time.
The elephant in the room at all live Pixie shows was that original member Kim Deal is no longer with the band. She’s currently replaced by Paz Lenchantin. The band respects Deal’s absence by not playing the songs she sung lead on, like “Gigantic” or “Into the White."

Lenchantin’s bass playing was more than competent, and on the songs where she sang backup, you could be forgiven for thinking her angelic, bubbly voice was Kim’s, especially during “I’ve Been Tired,” when she cooed out, “And while we're at it baby/Why don't you tell me one of your biggest fears?” Under the surprisingly merciful Florida sun, she was all dressed up in black as the Pixies played songs from each of their six albums.

In an interview with the New Times a couple of weeks ago, guitarist Joey Santiago threatened the Pixies might road-test some new songs on this tour, but only one of the 23 songs in the set had yet to be recorded. It was one in which Black hollered “I’m a super” and mumbled something about marzipan. That was the only unfamiliar moment. The set was instead a celebration of the Pixies' mighty catalog and refreshingly authentic, a show where parents brought their young children to sing along to songs about incest.

The only way the set could have been more perfectly surreal was if you ponied up the money to rent one of the jetpacks available to hover over the water.

Pixies Setlist:
Gouge Away
Head On
Wave of Mutilation
Where Is My Mind
The Holiday Song
Nimrod’s Son
Break My Body
Greens and Blues
Unreleased new song
Rock Music
What Goes Boom
Blue Eyed Hexe
Magdalena 318
River Euphrates
Isla de Encanta
I’ve Been Tired

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland