Arts & Entertainment, The Muse

State of Grunge-achusetts

In 1988, Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering joined forces to record the Pixies’ first full-length studio album, Surfer Rosa (4AD), and planted the seeds for grunge rock.’ Kurt Cobain himself claimed he ‘was basically trying to rip off the Pixies’ while writing the grunge anthem ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’

In 1989, the Pixies came together again to record their second full-length studio album, Doolittle (4AD), in a South Boston recording studio. Doolittle further cemented the Pixies’ legacy in indie rock lore, sounding more polished than Surfer Rosa, while still maintaining the perfect blend of punk rock, heavy metal and pop that would become the essential format for future grunge rock bands.

In many ways, the Pixies were the Velvet Underground of their time; few bought their records before their 1993 breakup, but everyone who did went out and started a rock band.

Fast-forward 20 years from the release of Doolittle. Black Francis and his Pixies have been reunited for six years, and are in the middle of their Doolittle 20th Anniversary Tour.’ Nov. 28, 2009 marked 20 years to the day since recording for Doolittle began, and the Pixies were booked to play a show at the Wang Theatre back in their hometown of Boston, Mass.

After an unusual indie band called Rain Machine (which appeared to feature some kind of woodland creature as their guitarist and lead singer) finished their set, the Pixies were set to take the stage.

The Pixies began their first set with a few rare B-sides, including ‘Weird at My School,’ which was so rare to bassist Kim Deal that she actually forgot how to play it before succeeding the second time through.’ The Pixies then played the entire Doolittle album, from the surreal ‘Debaser’ to the equally surreal ‘Gauge Away,’ not missing their grunge masterpieces ‘Wave of Mutilation,’ ‘Here Comes Your Man,’ ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ and ‘Hey.’

The band returned for the first encore to play B-sides ‘Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)’ and ‘Into the White.’ Returning for a second encore, the Pixies unleashed their acclaimed ‘Where Is My Mind?’ from Surfer Rosa and the crowd pleasing ‘U-Mass.’

Overall, the band has managed to maintain the same sound they captured 20 years ago. Vocally, there is still the perfect equilibrium between the desperate howl of Black Francis and the siren-like, harmonic voice of Kim Deal. David Lovering’s drums are still as powerful and heavy as always, in typical grunge fashion, and Joey Santiago’s guitar still keeps a balance of surf-rock and heavy metal sound that Pixies fans have come to know and love.

The Pixies then bid farewell to their fellow Bostonians, leaving the audience with a stellar performance from one of rock and roll’s most innovative bands in the genre’s storied history.

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