Posted by: pop-break | October 31, 2011

Pop-Break Live: The Pixies in Asbury Park

pop-break was live when The Pixies and Surfer Blood played at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, N.J., on Oct. 28 …

Words by Jason Stives | Photos by Jeff Rusnak

Concerts in Asbury Park, N.J., have now turned from summer outings to indoor pressure cookers, with people donning hoodies and pants. Friday night at the famed Convention Hall, alt-rocker pioneers The Pixies continued their never-ending trek on their “Doolittle: Lost Cities” world tour. The boardwalk was all a lit for the 2,000 fans who readied an evening destined to be a great flashback that was neither outdated nor harsh on the ears. Like most acts you never expect the band to go on at exactly the time they are suppose to but at 9:15 on the dot The Pixies took the stage to an eager crowd, drowning out their uproarious cheers with melodic industrial music complimented by a mural of disturbing vintage videos of God knows what. Black Francis and company were in fine form this evening, and while not much was said on stage, bassist Kim Deal made sure to add some light humor to the evening, instructing the audience of what to do during the show.

Deal reminded the audience track by track that these were in fact B-sides that started the evening ranging from the obscure (“Bailey’s Walk” and “Weird At My School”) to the expected (“Dance The Manta Rey”). Much of this was all too brief, but that’s because Black Francis and company were eager to give the nearly sold out crowd their cake. The opening bass riff of “Debaser” followed, signaling the beginning of the side-to-side performance of their classic album Doolittle that followed for the next hour. Forgetting that the bulk of Doolittle‘s tracks are less than three minutes, you would never tell based on the breathtaking performances ranging from blink of an eye precision (“Wave Of Mutilation,” “I Bleed,” “ There Goes My Gun”) to drawn out sonic expositions (“Gauge Away” and “Hey”).

The Pixies are very much one of those bands who speak volumes of energy through their sound rather than their onstage capabilities, and this night was no different. Outside of some very existentialist background videos and a fog machine that could’ve warranted a visit from the Asbury Park fire department, the band was a still figure in a grimy old basketball gym. This didn’t mean they didn’t show bursts of energy as Black Francis’ ageless vocals and screams showed throughout the night, but they also didn’t need to be animated. The fans certainly didn’t need to be told how to behave as many swayed and freaked their own minds out through every blistering number procured over almost two hours of material. As the second side of Doolittle ended (as Kim Deal so humorously mentioned), the crowd was still hot fresh waiting for an encore, and they got two for that matter comprising of six songs total.

The band returned within a few minutes and smashed through some old favorites including “Isla De Encanta,” a smoked-infested rendition of “Into The White” and for the second time that evening, “Wave Of Mutilation,” under the guise of the fan favorite “UK Surf” version. Ending the night on a spacious and haunting note was “Where Is My Mind?” which for me procured visions of Tyler Durden and Marla Singer destroying beautiful buildings on a tapered skyline (I hope y’all get that reference; otherwise, I’ll just feel dumb). If I never saw The Pixies again in concert, I feel this show solidified what they are and not what they could be doing. Some seven years after their reunion, there is no need for new material in their eyes and the fans seem to be fine with that because sometimes it’s best not to mess with critical perfection to relive an old glory.

SETLIST
1. Dancing The Manta Ray

2. Weird At My School 

3. Bailey’s Walk 

4. Manta Ray 

5. Debaser 

6. Tame 

7. Wave Of Mutilation 

8. I Bleed 

9. Here Comes Your Man 

10. Dead 

11. Monkey Gone To Heaven 

12. Mr. Grieves 

13. Crackity Jones 

14. La La Love You 

15. No. 13 Baby 

16. There Goes My Gun 

17. Hey 

18. Silver 

19. Gouge Away 


Encore 1
20. Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf) 

21. Into The White 


Encore 2
22. Isla De Encanta 

23. Nimrod’s Son 

26. Caribou 

27. Where Is My Mind?

OPENING ACT :
The night would have felt a bit abrupt if there weren’t some great tunes to open the show. Florida indie-rock darlings Surfer Blood were the right fit to open the show and they plowed through a 12-song set that felt like a show in someone’s garage. Loud, tight, and overly brooding with a British-like swagger, the band slowly made the audience come to life and by the time the band finished with their Pitchfork-certified signature song “Swim,” the band could’ve played 12 more songs and no one would’ve minded none the less.

Most of the tracks were cuts from their 2010 debut Astro Coast, but with a recently released EP titled Tarot Classics, the boys from West Palm Beach made sure to hawk their merchandise and then played a nice starry track from it entitled “Miranda.”

A cross between Modern English and The Smoking Popes, lead singer John Paul Pitts seemed just as eager to be there as his vocals were as he designated a sense of lust, desire, and angst through every song the band mustered up for the crowd. Personally, I would highly recommend these guys, for all the joking nature an indie rock band can display to large audiences, these guys really had a sense of their sound and opted for straight fast paced songs rather than being a stiff act that most probably wouldn’t remember played before the headliner.

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