Concert Review: Pixies at the State Theatre
Influential alt-rock band the Pixies play to a packed house in Easton.
Although the 20-year mark has come and gone, the Pixies are billing their current tour as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of their landmark Doolittle album.
Not that anyone's complaining; the tour is giving the band a chance to visit cities and venues it hasn't played in before, like Easton's State Theatre, where the Pixies stopped Thursday night.
And although Doolittle is about the same age as a large chunk of Thursday's audience, the Pixies -- seven years into a long reunion -- continue to play like a band hitting its stride, not one that's phoning it in.
Because although it would be great to see the quartet -- singer/guitarist Black Francis, bassist/singer Kim Deal, drummer David Lovering and lead guitarist Joey Santiago -- write and record new material, the State show was more than simple fan service.
For example: rather than open with "Debaser," Doolittle's first track, they chose to start the nearly two hour set with a collection of Doolittle-era b-sides such as "Weird At My School."
And the elaborate multi-media show that proceeded their arrival on stage -- a screening of Luis Bunel's short film Un Chien Andalou -- might have felt pretenious in the hands of another band, a case of showmanship overpowering musicianship.
But for the Pixies, and Doolittle, it makes perfect sense; the film is referenced in "Debaser," and watching it, you can read Un Chien Andalou as a perfect distillation of a lot of the album's key themes: rage, sex, violence, religion.
None of this should imply the show was hard work, or ever anything less than fun. The band enthralled the audience with classics like "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and -- in an encore -- "Where Is My Mind?" but also brought new, intense life to "Silver," the only real weakspot on Doolittle.
And it helped that Deal was there to act as the evening's cheery emcee, helpfully introducing songs and talking about a visit to the Crayola Factory. Francis, the band's front man, stayed quiet during these digressions. Then again, he had work to do on songs such as Crackity Jones and the ferocious Tame, which -- 22 years on -- sounds anything but.
Opening act, the peppy, poppy Florida indie-rockers Surfer Blood, were quite enjoyable, as much for their good natured banter with the crowd as for their music, which was highlighted by their current single, "Miranda."