Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Second Wave Of Mutilation

Concert Review
The Pixies - 11.9.04 - Milwaukee Theatre

In case you haven't heard, The Pixies are back, and I don't just mean at the newly reopened Fannie May stores. One of the best and most popular bands never to achieve mass popularity, The Pixies are a group I came to know & like toward the end of their 1987-1992 heyday, but never saw in concert. Playing together for the first time in 12 years, The Pixies are enjoying a surprisingly succesful reunion tour -- that started back in April -- despite not recording any new music. Next week's 5-night stand at the Aragon promises to be a high point of the reunion, during which they will play to 10 times more fans in Chicago than they ever did during their original incarnation. Unable to see any of those shows as I will be in Europe, I caught The Pixies last night in Milwaukee at the plush, new (in an old building) Milwaukee Theatre, a far more comfortable venue than the Aragon (which isn't necessarily a good thing for the sake of a rock concert, but I didn't mind).

I enjoyed the show. The Pixies were very good, and easily could have been phenomenal. They sounded good and played virtually every song I would've wanted to hear, including Wave of Mutilation twice (one the normal rocking version, one a slowed down version as the first encore number). But while the music was first rate, the band and the show felt a bit cold and distant. More a band I appreciate for their unique & dynamic sonics than easily accessible songs -- which all seem to be less than 3 minutes; they must've played 20 songs in the first hour -- I wasn't expecting, nor did I get, captivating showmanship from The Pixies. But after a 12 year absense, more than 8 total spoken words from the band -- two Thank You's and a Thank You Very Much -- would've made them seem a bit less mercenary. Even musically, they were at their best when they did an extended jam at the end of Gigante, a nice change from the barrage of wham-bam-thank you-mam 3 minute blasts.

And the end of the show seemed a bit abrupt & disappointing. Though under 2 hours, they played long enough, but the encore consisted of the slow version of Wave of Mutilation, the mellowish Where Is My Mind and then -- rather than a rousing show closing, yet-unplayed rocker, like Dig for Fire, Allison or something like it -- they put down their instruments, said the last 4 of their 8 words (the only ones to come from Frank Black) and walked offstage. It seemed another encore was in order, but the house lights came up, giving a somewhat subdued ending to a good show that should've been masterful, but for a bit more warmth and one last blast to send us into the Milwaukee night.

I still recommend seeing them at the Aragon; hopefully the multi-night stand will loosen them up a bit.

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