October 27, 2011

The Pixies / Surfer Blood - The Wellmont Theatre - October 27, 2011

Photo by Evan Salan
The Pixies opened the Doolittle Lost Cities Tour Thursday night at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ. The tour is based on their stellar album Doolittle released over 20 years ago and the “Lost” in the tour title is a reference to the cities the band has never played before, though I am sure the fine people of Montclair wouldn’t consider themselves lost in any way. Nor was it particularly difficult to get to the lost city of Montclair from NYC thanks to the nearby train stops by the theatre.

Like all good rock shows this had it all, - great performances, some obscure songs that only the ultimate fan would know and a big unexpected twist that the band handled well.

First to take the stage was the opening band Surfer Blood. They are a four piece  guitar driven band from Florida that has been around for a few years with a recently released EP titled Tarot Classics.   They have received a lot of buzz off their single “Swim” and played with Les Savy Fav at ATP and had a few showcases at SWSX last year.  They were tight with a lo-fi garage feel to their set. Both guitarists were great and the rhythm section kept it moving. The crowd responded well to every song they played, whether they playfully announced that this song was about William Shatner or dedicating a song to “all the ladies in the audience…and anyone affected by the bad economy”. Keep an eye on them as they are going places.

Next up was The Pixies and the crowd was amped for them to hit the stage. Their music has been cited as an influence on artists as diverse as Kurt Cobain and Bono. High compliment when bands want to be like you and imitate your sound. Their songs are not pretty in a classic sense but in no way ugly; lead singer Frank Black attacks every song with shouts and yelps and the subjects of some of the songs are a bit odd whether it be an ode to his alma mater (U-Mass) or someone Black came across in Puerto Rico (Bailey’s Walk).

Video taken from Pixies Official YouTube page
 To see many more videos click on Pixies

Before the band took the stage there was a film by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali. Video was a key feature of the stage show as every song from the Doolittle album had an accompanying video that played behind the band. “I Bleed” had blood coming down the screen and animated hearts with legs were running across the screen for “La La Love You”. The stage also had four spheres suspended above the band that served as a light show as well, changing colors throughout the night. After the Bunuel/Dali film a little fog behind the drum riser had the band emerging to loud applause. The screen faded to black and the band’s name appeared across the top, with the drummer David Lovering pointing at “Pixies” with his drumstick. Right away they launched into a song that only the most hardcore fan would know from the Doolittle era, “Dancing The Manta Ray”. After the song was over bassist Kim Deal yelled into the mike, “B sides!”,  letting us know we would be getting more of the same before they launched into Doolittle proper. After three more numbers and Deal letting on that they had to learn how to play one song for the shows (Bailey’s Walk) they launched into “Debaser”, the first song off Doolittle on side one. The crowd went nuts on the opening guitar rift from Joey Santiago and the accompanying drumming from David Lovering. One running joke all night on the screen behind them was a video playing an old record player with the disc spinning but the needle never inching forward on a few songs they introduced.

Once they launched into the Doolittle album you can really hear the influences in today’s indie music. The vocals are soft and quiet and then immediately change to a loud, hard, and aggressive sound.  Kim Deal has a nice contrast from Frank Black in her vocals, more playful and almost singing in a whisper at times.

After the audience was spent from listening to the entirety of the Doolittle album, the band returned for the encore and launched into a softer version of “Wave Of Mutilation” and then Deal begins “Into The White” and the stage goes black. No video, lights or sound were coming from the stage for the next five minutes. The band could do nothing but wait until the technical issues were resolved so there was some milling about the stage, Deal and Black were talking amongst themselves and no audience participation except applause. That was strange to witness.  It was almost like they were behind glass since they had no way to reach us outside of some shoulder shrugs from Black as if to say “crazy, huh”?

After ending with “Gigantic” the audience filed out into the cold night happy to have witnessed the spectacle of a great rock show. 

Set List:
Dancing The Manta Ray
Weird At My School
Bailey’s Walk
Manta Ray
Wave Of Mutilation
I Bleed
Here Comes Your Man
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Mr. Grieves
Crackity Jones
La La Love You
No.13 Baby
There Goes My Gun
Gouge Away


Wave Of Mutilation
Into The White
Where Is My Mind
Nimrod’s Son
Broken Face

Posting contributed by Alton Roberson

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