“The Pixies and the Key to Playing Old Songs (Never Having Enjoyed Them in the First Place)”

There’s a lot reasons why last year’s Pixies set a Lollapalooza Brazil was such a diamond in the rough, for those who saw it (one of course being the artistic moribundity we Americans have rightly come to associate with the festival lineup). One is that Kim Shattuck’s voice actually sounds like Kim Deal’s, and another is that the transitive mood of bleeding-ear rock shelled out by the band is about as far from the hipster-zeitgeist mimicking album title Indie Cindy as possible.

They sounded like a band that informed our whole value system for the last 25 years; that took that vertex of alienation we’d all apparently felt before the shifting, sterile world and told it: “fu** you, world, I’m free, happy and white” (I don’t mean like “white power,” I mean it is really white music, and I think even black people imbibe a certain whiteness if and when they listen to it). They took the state not as a “band with a new album,” they took it as a “band with a lot of songs, some of which are new.” Black Francis’ chops sounded as youthful as a prized fight dog, David Lovering gleefully played his parts like Dinosaur Jr.’s Murph with every bit the focus, and Joey Santiago’s parts emanated from the same distant planet they always have.

There’s an impossible combination at work in the Pixies’ music when it’s at its best: an admission of absurdity, combined with the delivery of it. We are rendered absurd, before the world’s obligations for us, obligations of fitting into constrictive molds and passing time as if it’s worthless, obligations of fishing back into ourselves for beauty when so much of it has been stamped and “mutilated” by drudgery and simple hopelessness. These songs are like primal cries, and this Lolla set is the Pixies’ primary achievement of 2014, because it’s such a grand stage, and because with the four-song segue “Something against You”/”Broken Face”/”Brick is Red”/”Gouge away,” they acknowledged that their old stuff is not only their best, but still so powerful.

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