The Pixies - El Rey Theatre - September 9, 2013
For anyone who was lucky enough to see The Pixies play a last-minute gig Friday night at The Echo, we're jealous of you. Like super jealous. However, the rest of us were introduced to the new Pixies lineup at the first of their four formal area shows (three at the El Rey, one at the Mayan).
Earlier this summer, the Boston veterans surprised and delighted many of their fans when they released "Bagboy" off what was to become their latest four-song EP aptly titled EP-1. In spite of the new music, this is a time of change for the band. Out is longtime bassist Kim Deal and in another Kim, this time in the form of Shattuck of The Muffs fame.
Playing in front of what appeared to be stacked screens along with an intricate light show, the Pixies seemed to be in good spirits and ready to roll. They hit the stage exactly at 10, and didn't waste time getting loud.
As should be expected, even with the subtraction of Deal, the Pixies sounded like, well, the Pixies. Black Francis and company delighted the crowd mixing in psychedelic jams with heavier alt rock. In fact, Francis's howling vocals and thrashing guitar along with Joey Santiago's crunchy licks sounded as good as you'd expect Songs like "U Mass," "Brick is Red" and "Boom Chickaboom" were compact and tight.
By the end of the night, things got a bit weird. After "Planet of Sound," Francis gave the crowd a wave put his guitar down and the band exited stage right. No problem, right? The Pixies were slated to play for 90 minutes and at the time of their departure, it was 11:15 and there were three songs on the set list. Fans cheered loudly for the band to come back to play an encore, but curiously, they didn't return. At first, the cheers were loud, but when the crew came on stage instead of the band, people were at first a bit confused, then irritated before getting a bit pissed. And with good reason. It's not often to see a band like the Pixies at a venue as intimate as the El Rey, yet they left the stage with time to spare, usually signifying an encore. Not last night.
As David Bowie's "Heroes" blared over the soundsystem and the crew quickly packed up the stage, cheers became boos. Not loud "Fire Kiffin" boos, but boos nonetheless. Fans refused to leave the venue even though the curtains were closed and there was an announcement over the PA to get out.
Filing out of the El Rey, fans were a mix between surprised and bewildered. Some felt shortchanged by the band not playing the full 90-minutes while others were happy to see the alt rock pioneers back on stage. No matter the reasoning behind cutting short the set, the one thing about the Pixies you can say is that the group keeps its fans on their toes Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The first of three nights at the El Rey showed that fans should be ready for anything, even if that means being disappointed.
The Crowd: Loud and excitable, until the abrupt ending.
Random Notebook Dump: The dude behind me was a UPS driver who came right from work. He was in his full UPS uniform and had "In Case We Missed You" slips in his shirt pocket. In case you were wondering, yes, he did rock the hardest of anyone there. Well done sir, well done.