Words by Damon Sharkey
Photos by Andrew Scott Blackstein
reCAP :: Pixies w/ Sunflower Bean :: 2017.09.24
Sep 28 / Thursday
Went to see Pixies at The Capitol Theatre. I always enjoy the ambiance of such an ebullient venue. And plenty of nervous excitement as the soldout crowd shuffles for spots on the floor, off-handed conversation about faces and places. Smiles, looks of incredulity, eyes rolling, then understanding, laughter.
Lights went down lowish for Sunflower Bean, a city act with Julia Cumming, a sultry girl singing, who seemed a sprite on the stage, bass guitar slung low over a satin Chinese red apple red dress, worn like a doll, slender frame. She sang about burning the whole town down with a tender voice. She was actually being careful as she went. She kicked the air with sparkly silver boots and kept smudging her firecracker red lipstick with the microphone, staring into longing lyrics, innocent. The Police sounds in her bass, Kate Bush reveries in her tones. The band had fun with the crowd, showed promise. Guitarist, Nick Kivlen, was explorative, kind of bouncy with his riffs off her tracks. Sustained drums, bass heavy, pounded out by Jacob Faber. They were growthy, plashy, earnest. Six quick songs, warming it up just about as warmly as you can. Then lights, some space and rearranging, tinkering with instruments. And it went dark.
But just before the music turned on again, I fell through this narrow chasm in the wall, just when all the silvery blue waves came crashing down. The deluge tumbled over as I slipped through the egress.
I mean I guess it was good to be released for long enough to get my bearings, to see that I was falling from the ground, caught in the sky for awhile, tumbling.
I’m still lost for why I didn’t get to see myself drop into the ocean below and feel the surround before I knew what the hell was going on. I want to know why. I should write to them. I mean I really should. It’s like nobody knew what was coming. There was no warning. No preparation. No, “I’m sorry.” No, “Get ready.” But that’s how it went when I resurfaced and drew in my breath and Pixies were playing in the sea in front of me. They were all wearing shirts that were on fire. And the howling rose-petalled flames wouldn’t go out. They just glowed fervidly with the sounds as they wound their way around the waves, around the room. Around that big room. It was all boom, no doom, and screeches and metal erupting, accidents in perfect places, creative destruction and unconstricted fantasy. I kept thinking I hope they never know logic. I hope it never makes sense. Please keep them away from the logic. The watery garden with all of the flowers on fire was too much to describe, too much to see.
Black Francis tore through 35 songs. Ditties from “Head Carrier” interspersed between the greats. “Silver Snail,” newbee making its appearance. All the anthropomorphic sing-song-sorcery. Kim Deal purveying the punk rock thump of social critique. “Doolittle” favs. The wandering tableaux of musical paintings, riven and dripping with post-aware recountings of space ships that got away with someone’s true love. The tones winding between authentic locket-opening love songs and the testimony taken by detectives who have been up for three days trying to solve a murder. The faces around me were shuddering in passion, confused, frought with surprise and rebuke, focusing on a blinding light in the distance that was coming to tear things open, head-on.
And then everything was calm and placid. Still and…
It was the suddenness of it that almost scared me. They had been finding these grooves to fall into, like the grooves had captured them and abducted them, stealing away down lonely highways and through outerspace. Always this transference, this noncommittal agreement to give over to bass lines driven by drum lashes and the spectral ecstasy of a guitar playing away the day. Joey Santiago peeling away some “Surfer Rosa” like someone running away with your control. “Bossanova” tastes of rock music. David Lovering, din deterrent, shattering frames and shivering, composed for what lay in the offing, without the vaguest notion of what was next.
Pixies songs are joyfully tortured by the beauty of knowing the loneliness of originality. Of the need to be new and renewed and redeemed from the old. And what it’s like to be an animal in between the spaces of time. And the strange boredom of having to make sense of it all, all of the time, while being armed with an arsenal of such raucous sound as to make one dumb. Their sounds arrived and departed almost before they were there. They burst. The songs elegies of themselves as you wanted it back after they took it away from you. Again and again. And I suppose I couldn’t blame them as I floated between the waves there in front of one of the best rock bands in history. I mean why else did I come to hear them play? It’s not like I knew what it was like in the beginning.
I realized that they were just doing the best they could with what they had. It’s what they kept confessing. They had to make it to the same places again and again because they wouldn’t-couldn’t get free of them. The places they had to be. The instrumentation was of some otherness from far away that they had to move through in order to get to where they were. And they were already there anyway. This wonderful place. And they kept coming back, kept singing about, “You.”
The Capitol Theatre Photo Gallery
Photos by Andrew Scott Blackstein
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