Better Than: Making out with that hot guy from your Spanish class in the basement of a UMass dorm while “Where Is My Mind” played in the background. Waaaay better.
For the first of their three-night stay at the Bowery Ballroom, The Pixies, thankfully, showed that plenty has remained the same for the beloved Massachusetts alternative deity despite a lineup shake-up and a noticeable absence. They’re fresh on the heels of EP-1, their first release since which was worked into their 75-minute setlist as easily as the memorizing favorites the crowd came to see. This was surprising to plenty, as a greatest hits approach for the sold-out run at the Bowery Ballroom would’ve gone over brilliantly, and the EP received a famously frigid reception. Still, “Bag Boy”–the first song put out by the band since Kim Deal’s departure, and so without a hint of her vocals on the track–was met with raised fists. Black Francis hasn’t lost a shred of intensity, as his sharp monotone revved on a bed of steady, fuzzy reverb throughout “Indie Cindy” and the driving solos that cut into “Andro Queen” much more acutely than the lasers that perforated the haze hovering over the room throughout the evening.
See also: Let Black Francis Sing His Songs About Mustaches and UFOs To You
Biggest hits of the night? “UMass,” “Hey,” “Nimrod’s Son,” “Indie Cindy”–again, shockingly–and “Where Is My Mind,” naturally, a closer so strong it didn’t require an encore. They may have run out of time–hell, they’ve got shows tonight and tomorrow they need to rest up for as well and this isn’t 1991–but The Pixies brought just enough to the Bowery stage to remind devoted fans that their songwriting chops have hardly wavered and that the best may be yet to come.
Critical Bias: You are conditioned to worship The Pixies if you hail from New England. I do, and their ties to the region are cemented not only throughout their discography but in the fabric of their being. They got their start at UMass Amherst (“UMass” is their official ode to coed disorientation, and one of the most enthusiastically received songs in the set last night); Kim Deal famously answered an ad they’d placed in the now-defunct Boston Phoenix, the alt-weekly that served as a local music resource and bible of sorts for nearly 40 years.
Random Notebook Dump: Major Lazors. “Whoever designed The Pixies’ stage set-up, a serious tip o’ the hat in your direction, because the combination of disco ball/industrial overhead lighting/geometric paneling made for a perfect backdrop for the modest-yet-facemelting milieu.