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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Pixies: Worth Going to Lowell For

Thor Johnson called, he wants his body back
Nancy Derby/Jordan Colon
Thor Johnson called, he wants his body back

Lowell, Massachusetts on a cold Thursday night can be a lonely town where pre-show drinking can only take place in the slimiest bars festooned with Kerouac flyers and alcoholic pride. The city was hosting the second night of the Pixies’ reunion tour, a` la Tsongas Arena. In fact, once the reunion was announced there was no intention of a club tour: this was to be an all-out, expensive t-shirt-and-overpriced-beer event, hockey rink style.

Reunion shows can be a bittersweet experience. You’re ecstatic to be there, but you wish you were either cool enough or old enough to see the band in real time. Thankfully, Frank Black has continued making and touring records exponentially since the Pixies broke up. Anyone will tell you the past ten years of playing clubs and making live to two track recordings has made him a better singer and confident musician. He’s been known to play obscure Pixies songs over the years such as “The Happening” from Bossanova, or a twisted, almost unrecognizable version of the well-known “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” Black Letter Days featured Pixies’ guitarists Joey Santiago and mad science experiments (and only mad science experiments) from drummer David Lovering. All former Pixies were familiar playing and touring with each other in recent years, except of course for Mrs. John Murphy, a.k.a Kim Deal. The press seems to make a huge fuss over her absence and the apparent bitterness between her and Frank, perhaps to enhance a dramatic element to the reunion. The mood of the evening was something along the lines of a casual dinner with old friends. The band walked on stage, blasé` and three fourths bald, and started off with Surfer Rosa’s “Bone Machine.” As Frank sang the lines “university, of Massachusetts please,” from “UMASS” (a reference to Amherst, but we can pretend), there was some embarrassing screaming from the crowd (whoo Massachusetts, we’re here right now! WE live in Massachusetts!!). At one point I had to move away from a bunch of dudes busting a nut over Kim: “Dude, I’m totally looking at Kim deal in the eye right now, ohh its Kim deal, holy shit, dude are you seeing this…” Frank has discussed in interviews how Kim can charm the whole audience by a mere “gee thanks” and admitted it used to miff him royally. On stage though, they seemed to have some brother/sister banter, some nice winks and nods. Kim played “Gigantic” with Frank as her backing vocal, and even led vocals on “In Heaven,” which is usually barked and whooped by Frank. The set list was impressive-a ticklish mix of the more cuckoo pleasures such as “Holiday Song,” “Broken Face,” and “Crackity Jones.” Most pleasing was the handling of the encore. Lets face it, when the band leaves the stage, we shouldn’t have to act like donkeys hee-hawing for more. After a few seconds, the band gave the audience its “Where is My Mind” (go to hell Fight Club) and went home.

A lot of people from Boston bitched about having to drive all the way to the banks of the Merrimack, scoffing that the band hadn’t scheduled anything closer. Why does Akron, Ohio or Milwaukee, WI get the pleasure of the Pixies in their city, when we, their home city, have to drive an hour? Well kids, lets try to refrain from contemplating suicide over the tickets that we didn’t get for last night’s show at Avalon. They announced the show late last week and the tickets sold out in four minutes on Saturday. Great.