An opportunity to see a classic act like the Pixies doesn’t come around as often as I would like; when I heard Nirvana’s biggest influence was making an appearance in Charleston, I jumped on the opportunity to rock out old school. This particular tour, “Lost Cities,” has been in the works since 2009 and was mastered throughout Europe in countries like Ireland, Amsterdam, and Belgium. The tour performs the entire 1989-released album “Doolittle” and its related B-sides.
The older crowd present at the Performing Arts Center that evening offered me an interesting approach: although I’ve mastered the spin of the pixie twirl, I certainly do not have the alternative-rock show resume of most of the audience. Regardless, the energy of the event was blooming with creative vibes and the scene itself turned me on before I could even get to my seat.
The stage design was simple but perfect. Above the band hung colored glow balls beaming in red, white, and blues. Underneath the balls and behind the band was an enormous screen where a VJ provided enough darkness to twist your mind around every guitar riff. During “Monkey Gone to Heaven” the VJ screen created a chaotic confusion and, as the song shred, a man with a potato sack over his head ran around in circles and eventually hung himself. The image left some disturbed but it honestly left me feeling liberated- like we’re all crazy, and we’re in this together.
As “Doolittle” proceeded through its incredible track listing including “Wave of Mutilation,” “La La Love You,” and “There Goes My Gun,” I enjoyed the opportunity to jam out hard for two to five minutes at a time. Both the jam band and electronic scene have left me comfortable in songs that bleed into others or last up to 30 minutes at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I love improvised music, but I’ve forgotten the beauty of the breath in between short deep tracks like “Tame.”
“Hey,” is by far one of my all time favorite Pixies songs and it is a song that I never thought I’d actually hear live, like “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan, but better. The experience to see “Hey” live brought me back to my roots, before I even knew who The Disco Biscuits were. As I stood alone stapled to my youth I felt completely together singing the lyrics “We’re chained,” with the entire audience.
The Pixies had two encores for the evening. The first encore went back into “Wave of Mutilation,” and then “Into the White.” During “Into the White” fog machines blew furiously from the stage and the entire band and front orchestra rows literally went into the white, disappearing before my eyes. The second encore went like this “Holiday,” “Nimrod,” “U-Mass,” “Where is my Mind?” and “Gigantic”. “U-Mass” was awesome and had quite a few in the aisle two- stepping like it was the grunge years all over again. “Where is my Mind” was just as wholesome and beautiful as you could ever imagine it to be. For years I’ve seen numerous acts like Bassnectar and M.I.A. play a remake of this song but nothing beats the real thing no matter how heavy the bass is.