Last Night: The Pixies At Verizon Wireless Theater
For more images from Monday's show, see our slideshow here.
The Pixies are Costanza.
In one episode of Seinfeld, a woman who had recently made George Costanza's acquaintance remarks to Jerry Seinfeld that there must be more to Jason Alexander's balding, bespectacled nebbish than meets the eye.
"Oh no," exhales Jerry. "There's less."
Since they stopped releasing new music almost two decades ago, the Pixies have become so venerated, so lionized, so pillaged and plundered by a generation or two of lesser artists, that they really have become more a legend than a band. Not until they go onstage with only four papier-mache eyeballs and a series of stylized short films for company does the realization settle in that they might be human after all.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The Pixies may have done more with less than any band in history, certainly any band that has been elevated to their lofty status. Pick a song, any song, and it's familiar: Kim Deal's bounding, up-the-middle bass lines; David Lovering's skeletal drumming; Joey Santiago's strangulated Dick Dale/Sergio Leone guitar; and Frank Black voicing his obsessions with science fiction, sea creatures, nursery rhymes and surrealism at varying degrees of agitation and volume.
The proportions may vary from song to song, and do, but the ingredients are the same. Lovering isn't the only magician in the band.
Monday night at a nearly sold-out Verizon Wireless Theater, the Pixies showed why, and how, their body of work remains one of the most recognizable and unique in recent rock history. The evening's mise en scene was the quartet's nautical/zoological 1989 album Doolittle, from the four table-setting B-sides through inevitable singalongs "Here Comes Your Man," "Monkey Gone To Heaven," "La La Love You" and (a little surprisingly) "Hey."
Deal greeted the crowd with a simple "the B-sides," before the ocean-choppy and brusque "Do the Manta Ray." "Weird At My School" was a mad Sun Records/spaghetti western rockabilly shuffle, and the drowsy "Bailey's Walk" never left the sketchbook, essentially over before it began.
"Manta Ray," though, put all the pieces together: Deal's hefty bass melody and ghostly other-room vocals; Lovering's punk pacing; and Santiago wringing the life out of his fretboard. It was like watching a stop-motion animation film of a skeleton growing all its tissue back, a perfect segue into Doolittle proper.