Fans dance like pixies at Pixies’ hometown gig


Pixies, May 8, 2023, The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ Nick Woodward-Shaw L-R: Joey Santiago, Black Francis, Dave Lovering, Paz Lenchantin Hi-Rez.

Nick Collins, Sports Editor

It was an amazing turnout for a legendary hometown band at MGM Music Hall Fenway Thursday, June 8. Boston-based alternative band Pixies, best known for their hit song “Where is My Mind?” and being a massive influence for the alternative scene in the 1990s, had an incredible show consisting of a 30 song setlist. Rock bands Bully and Franz Ferdinand opened for the quartet and set the stage with terrific performances of their own. 

The doors opened at 6:00 p.m., and Nashville’s rock band Bully was the first act to take center stage 45 minutes later. The four piece band, lead by frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, began the night with a bang. The band’s captivating stage presence, which combined heavy power chords and basslines with Bognanno’s emotional vocals, caught the eyes of the growing crowd flooding into the venue. 

The final song of their set saw Bognanno get rid of her guitar and get the crowd going. Her impeccably enthralling demeanor and charisma encapsulated the band’s performance and complimented their great gig by ending it on a high note that may have left fans asking for more.

After Bully finished at 7:15 p.m., it was time for Franz Ferdinand to take the stage. The Scotland-based rock band began their night with frontman Alex Kapranos introducing the quintet at around 7:30 p.m., and enticed the crowd by asking if they were ready for the Pixies later that evening. After hyping up the ever-growing group of fans, the quintet started their night off with the song “Jacqueline,” the opening track on their 2004 self-titled record. 

The following 75 minutes of their performance was filled with extremely high energy and a lot of dialogue between the band and the fans attending the show. Songs performed included “Do You Want To” and “The Dark of the Matinée”—two of their more well-known songs—which were performed back-to-back in the middle of the set. 

Kapranos was full of passion and liveliness, jumping around on stage while playing his 1970s Fender telecaster deluxe and changing lyrics to songs to engage with the fans on the floor and in the balcony. One example included changing a lyric in a song to “Boston,” which garnered a lot of cheers from the crowd. Their biggest hit “Take Me Out” was played near the end of the set and was the last song prior to their encore. Many fans in both the general admission section and the balcony sang along to the track and jumped around with their arms in the air. 

Once the song was over, the band walked off stage and came back on moments later. It was then that they performed the track “Outsiders” and soon thereafter, Kapranos made the crowd acquainted with his companions on stage; he introduced them to bassist Bob Hardy, percussionist Julian Corrie, guitarist Dino Bardot, Audrey Tait on the drums and himself as the frontman. The group finished their night off with a drum solo performed by Tait and transitioned into their final song of the set “This Fire,” ending their show with a bow at center stage that was met by shouts and claps of applause.

When all was said and done, Franz Ferdinand finished around 8:45 p.m., and it was time for one of the biggest bands to ever come out of the city of Boston to take the spotlight. With the crowd now growing antsy for the final act of the night, the near capacity crowd that witnessed Franz Ferdinand was now filled to the brim on both the floor and the balcony for a homecoming of the Pixies. When the lights dimmed, it was followed immediately by a deafening eruption of cheers. 

The quartet of frontman Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, Paz Lenchantin and drummer David Lovering embraced the Boston crowd—who were full of individuals donning their merchandise and recording with their phones. Without missing a beat, they opened their set with the track “Cecilia Ann,” their rendition of a song by The Surftones that they released as the opening track on their 1990 album “Bossanova.” 

The band was slick as a whistle the entire night with smooth transitions between songs and sharp playing on all four ends. There was never a moment when the crowd wasn’t entertained; people were on the edge of their seats in the balcony and rarely leaving for food and beverage on the ground. Even when individuals decided to, there was never a moment they missed the show. With the sound system installed inside the venue, it allowed fans waiting in concessions and restroom lines to hear the set being played—some of whom could be heard humming or singing along to the lyrics.  

Classic songs in their discography like “Hey,” “Cactus,” “Planet of Sound,” “Get Stimulated” and “Debaser” gave many older fans a taste of nostalgia, as they were tracks that both fans across the world and alternative bands of the 1990s alike grew to love. Younger fans in attendance got a taste of their own euphoria with newer tracks like “Haunted House” and “There’s a Moon On,” taking in the emotions of watching a band they love go back to their roots with a diverse setlist that fans of old and young get a thrill out of.

As the night grew young, many more fan favorites of old and new came on the table, and the band gave the crowd of 5000 plus a treat with some artistic license. The group performed “Wave of Mutilation” in the middle of their gig, and after performing more favorites like “Vamos” and “Tame,” they performed “Wave of Mutiliation” once again near the end of their set. However, this time around, “Wave of Mutilation” was played in the form of its “UK Surf” rendition, which is an acoustic, melodic remix of the track that deviates from the original version—one with a faster tempo that consists of barre and power chords. The band also used artistic license on their song “Nimrod’s Son,” performing a slower version after playing at full speed not long before. 

When the set started coming to a close, the band played some of their biggest hits like “Death Horizon” and “Here Comes Your Man,” but nothing compared to the magical moment in which “Where is My Mind?” began to play. Fans exploded with screaming the second the first open e-chord was played, and everyone was heard mimicking Lenchantin’s famous “whoo-ooooh” backing vocal heard throughout the song. 

When Francis began to sing, fans turned on their flashlight and video camera and began to sing and shout the lyrics alongside him, word-for-word. Francis also had some artistic license in the song as well, beautifully elongating some lyrics and speeding up verses that brought a clever touch to a track recognized and loved by many across the globe. With its iconic riff drifting off at the end of the tune, the feedback of the amp helped the band shift into the final song of their set, a cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong,” a track they recorded on their 1990 EP “Dig For Fire.” 

Afterwards, like the act before them, the four musicians met at center stage to take a few bows that were met with whistling, cheering and even some bowing down from fans themselves, which initiated praise for them. It’s fair to say that for the thousands in attendance, whether it was their first time witnessing the group live or their fifteenth, it was a more than pleasurable experience being able to witness a band that has touched the hearts of millions.

 When the lights turned on and the four icons walked off stage, the exits began to flood with people raving about the show and the performances that the three groups put on. The same can be said for the individuals wearing Pixies T-shirts at the Kenmore train station, who could be overheard talking about their time at MGM Music Hall Fenway. And just like that, the night was over, but the memories of it will live on in the minds and hearts of the fans and musicians in what was a spectacular showing of three exceptional bands.