Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rockin' Out: Pixies @ Hammerstein Ballroom 11/23 & 11/24

Once again, more terrible Blackberry camera pictures, but at least one or two of these wound up looking sort of "artistic" (using that term very loosely) because of the funky lighting.

The Pixies rolled into New York City on Monday November 23rd to play the first of four gigs at Hammerstein Ballroom. I had tickets for both Monday and Tuesday nights' shows (the 3rd and 4th would both be played on Wednesday night...an early show and a late show) and was looking forward to great sets both nights as I have seen them a few times since they first started doing "reunion" tours in 2004 and they are awesome live. The catch about this tour was that they are touring on the 20th Anniversary of their album Doolittle and would be playing that album in its entirety along with select b-sides from that era at each show. Not a big deal as Doolittle is great from front to back and I assumed the Pixies would play at least another hour's worth of songs from the rest of their catalog to make for a full 2 hour set. Unfortunately, my assumption was wrong.

I am very familiar with the four studio albums by the Pixies, but admit to not being as studied on their B-Sides collection(s). On both nights the band opened with four b-sides and then went into playing Doolittle from beginning to end. The b-sides were cool, but I will admit to not recognizing any of them. At one point on Monday night, the bassist Kim Deal asked if anyone planned on coming Tuesday night and was met with a decent amount of cheers before saying something along the lines of "Well, you are going to get the same exact set tomorrow night!" Well, she was somewhat telling the truth. Monday and Tuesday were identical sets up until the encores. For the encores, Monday night we got "Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and "Into The White" (both b-sides), "Isla De Encanta" and "Nimrod's Son" (both from the Come On Pilgrim EP) and "Where Is My Mind?" and (one of my top three favorite Pixies songs) "Gigantic" (both from the excellent Surfer Rosa). Tuesday night we got "Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and "Into The White" again, followed by "Broken Face" (from Surfer Rosa), "Caribou" and "Ed Is Dead" (from the Come On Pilgrim EP) and "Planet Of Sound" (from Trompe Le Monde).

I've never met a Pixies song I didn't like, but I have to say these sets left me wanting. Each night was around 90 minutes of playing and I (along with the rest of the crowd) would have loved at least another 30 minutes of songs from their other three studio albums. Of the two nights, Monday had the better encore set list, but that was somewhat dampened by a very annoying and aggro crowd in attendance that evening. A fight complete with punching, shoving and beer throwing broke out during the song "Tame" (the second song on Doolittle) and there was a general hostile and stand off-ish vibe in the air that night. Even hanging towards the back to get away from the crowd proved an unappealing option because it was a bunch of drunks talking through the entire set and making it very difficult to hear the band (the irony of yelling and screaming about how much you love a band while completely ignoring them playing on a stage in front of you was apparently lost on these people). Tuesday night's vibe was by and far much more pleasant and it was actually fairly easy to maneuver to and from the bar through the crowd during the band's set.

One other note, the band did have a cool light show and interesting movie-like snippets playing on the screens behind the stage which always enhances the live experience when seeing a band in a larger venue.


"In Heaven (The Lady In The Radiator Song) / Gigantic"


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