In the 90’s, the heavy distortion of alternative rock became widespread after years spent primarily on college radio. About 10 years before that, one of the most influential bands in today’s thriving alt rock scene, the Pixies, began when singer Frank Black and lead guitarist Joey Santiago met at the University of Massachusetts Amhearst. Together, along with Kim Deal and David Lovering, the Pixies were quickly discovered and signed. The band’s first full length album, Surfer Rosa (’88), which is commonly cited as one of the greatest rock albums, became an inspiration for later powerhouse artists from Nirvana to Billy Corgan.
With a few more successful albums under their belts, the band decided to call a sabbatical in ’92 after tensions among the band tore them to pursue separate projects. After an 11 year rumour of the band reuniting, a full tour was announced in 2004. In April of this year, the Pixies release their 5th studio album, the first album released in 23 years since ‘91s Trompe le Monde. Indie Cindy received mostly favorable reviews and was the first album not to feature Kim Deal after her departure from the Pixies in 2013. Two weeks after her departure, the first single, “Bagboy,” from Indie Cindy was released, that set the anticipation for their album in motion.
Though Deal, who many believe a vital and irreplaceable member, was absent, touring bassist, Paz Lenchantin was met with positive reactions from the audience at the band’s San Diego performance at Humphrey’s by the Bay. “Rock Music,” off of the ’90 album Bossanova led the impressive 26 song, 90 minute long set.
Throughout the night, the band would play songs ranging all the way back to their earliest of songs to Indie Cindy, and the crowd was just as excited for each one. Early in the show, one of their most popular songs “Wave of Mutilation” was played, prompting many of those who were still seated to finally stand up. Stand out moments throughout the night included Lovering singing “La La Love You,” which garnered some of the most applause throughout the night.
At one point, Black switches to an acoustic guitar and shows off with his grasp of Spanish through a few songs. By the time the band hit “Monkey’s Gone to Heaven” later in the night, the entire crowd (even those in the very back where I was seated) was dancing in their spot, with partners, a crowd, or by themselves. “Vamos” came as the stand out point, as Santiago took his guitar, tossed it back and forth between hands, played the heavily distorted portion of the song using his hip and a drumstick tossed to him by Lovering. The encore came, of course, with their signature song “Where is my Mind.” The crowd, already on their feet and arms stretched out clenching their phones, rushed forward to the stage, disregarding security’s policy. Lenchantin’s vocals were hauntingly beautiful, and fit well with the song.
Going into the night, I wasn’t quite sure if the sold out show was going to be based on strictly nostalgia for a band that a long time ago made an impact on today’s music. I was quickly swayed to knowing, and understanding, that the Pixies are timeless. Their music transcends the generations and they put on one hell of a rock show.