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Death to the Pixies?

It's hard to tell if THE PIXIES are alive or dead, as long as you try to confuse yourself with silly metaphoric meanings of said adjectives. Obviously all four members are alive, well and in the middle of a reunion tour, which touched down for three nights at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley last weekend.

But with a reunion tour, things start to get a bit kooky real quick, because there's this whole thing that happens after a well-loved band breaks up. First, there's the grieving process, which almost always begins with anger. Anger that, say, you were supposed to go see the Pixies at A TINY BAR IN MADISON, WIS., but your friend forgot to buy you tickets and then told you later that it was the best show he'd ever seen in his life, so you didn't feel bad puking in his bedroom when he offered you consolation bong rips right after you drank four beers on an empty stomach.

But now that the Pixies are in heaven with the monkeys, you can't help wishing and wishing and wishing on your little monkey's paw that they'll come back, but they don't.

At last, though, the fermentation process begins and fond memories bubble up to the surface--the first time I heard KIM DEAL babbling about a superhero named TONY; or BLACK FRANCIS laughing maniacally in "Mr. Grieves." Gradually, the music takes on a life of its own--Doolittle still does well on the college charts--while the band members move on to other projects.

Then one day a corpse comes knocking and it's the Pixies announcing their reunion concert. Of course you fling open the door, and there they are on the stage at the Greek Theatre, alive and well, if a bit older, fatter and balder--but somehow even a bit cuter.

Would they stink as bad as a bloated corpse? Of course not. Frank Black Francis (?) and Deal immediately revived the strange harmonic magic of their voices together on "In Heaven," but just as they were getting warmed up, they blew their wad early on "Where Is My Mind," followed by a strange-but-true rendering of NEIL YOUNG's "Winterlong." Maybe it was just too early in the set, but hearing FBF sing "Where Is My Mind" was a bit like watching a parent baby-talk to his 16-year-old teenager who's well on his way to becoming independent. It made me realize that songs, like babies, grow up, move out of the house and spawn imitators of their own.

But just as soon as that metaphor was born, it was laid to rest by a killer set of 30 songs (see the complete list on www.disclive.com) that actually climaxed much later, with "Tame," and then again toward the end when "Nimrod's Son" reared his alarming head. If there's one thing this reunion show proved, it's that there are so goddamned many great Pixies songs--so many that, unlike the VIOLENT FEMMES, they can't possibly play them all in a night. It's like they're proud parents of an incredibly unique oeuvre, out and about on a reunion tour to finally show the whole thing off.


The oft-repeated phrase "beating a dead horse with a hatchet, a chain saw, and then blowing it up with a rocket launcher while engulfed in searing hellfire" comes to mind while listening to the brutal neometal assault and surreal, subliminal mindfuck lyrics ("Bulimic rainbows vomit what? Burn, piano island, burn!") of the BLOOD BROTHERS. With dueling blood-curdling screams, simulated lo-fi art rock production values and a complex punk rock approach, this 7-year-old raging five-piece is redefining what it means to be from Seattle. Think of it as the Second Declination of Western Civilization--the Blood Brothers rip it all apart and eat the little fleshy chunks. Check them out at the Teen Center on Saturday, Oct. 2, or check out www.strictlyamateurfilms.com for an enlightening DVD, This Is Circumstantial Evidence, featuring the Blood Brothers, MOVING UNITS, CATTLE DECAPITATION and much, much more.

Mike Connor

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From the September 29-October 6, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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