Pixies Sell Out Brooklyn Steel In Brooklyn, NY 5-26-17

Legendary and genre-defying Rock outfit Pixies announced a five-week tour across North America in early 2017. With more than half the announced shows selling out, the Pixies quickly announced a second leg to the North American tour to continue come September. Traveling abroad to Europe in between, the first leg of the North American tour finished off on a high note with an impressive three New York City shows, the last of which took over the expansive new Williamsburg, Brooklyn venue, Brooklyn Steel. The result, another sell out and a night of classic Alternative Rock no one would soon forget. 

Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the four-piece band known as the Pixies have made quite a name for themselves since forming in 1986. While the band has only released six studio albums in those thirty years, in recent times, they have been very active with the release of Indie Candy in 2014 and Head Carrier in the fall of 2016. The most well-known of these LPs is arguably 1989’s Doolittle, an album which contains some of the band’s most iconic songs like “Debaser,” “Here Comes Your Man,” and “Wave of Mutilation.” The album has been named as one of the best albums of the ’80s by media outlets like Pitchfork and NME, and judging by the crowd’s reaction when hearing the opening notes of those hits, fans would agree with those accolades.

However, during the recording of Doolittle was the beginning of internal tensions before the band went on to release two more studio albums within two years, Bossanova in 1990 and Trompe le Monde in 1991, but following those jam packed and stressful years, the band sadly called it quits in 1993. Thankfully for fans, it was not the end, and more than ten years later, the Pixies were resurrected and have been touring ever since. Currently comprised of Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar), David Lovering (drums), Joey Santiago (lead guitar, keyboards), and newest member Paz Lenchantin (bass,violin,vocals), collectively as the Pixies, they brought their strange magic to Brooklyn Steel.

Before Pixies took the stage, New York City’s own Cymbals Eat Guitars charmed the growing crowd with their hazy brand of Indie Rock. Since coming together in 2007, the band has been through a host of lineup changes, but judging by the way Keyboardist Brian Hamilton, Bassist Matt Whipple, Drummer Andrew Dole, and Vocalist/Guitarist Joseph D’Agostino created such a formidable wall of sound, one would think that Cymbals Eat Guitars has been together forever.

Though the band has four LPs under their collective belt, their set was compacted to a tight 30 minutes. With the expansive industrial space only about a quarter full, they made the most of their time, kicking off their set with the mellow, melancholy “Jackson.” At first, the few fans that bothered to show up early were unsure of what to do with this Shoegazey band, but as Cymbals Eat Guitars built momentum with the high-energy, Punk-inspired “Warning,” the crowd began to appreciate their unique sound.

Winning the audience over, their set came to an epic close with the impressive “Laramie,” a ten-minute slow burn during which D’Agostino fluctuates between a Prince-like falsetto and a raspy growl. The song gradually picked up steam and finished with a long, instrumental finale that saw D’Agostino lay down his guitar and wave a final goodbye a full minute before the song came to an end. By the time the band’s short-but-sweet set came to an end, the room had become packed with Pixies fans.

With little turnover time, the packed out venue had to wait a short thirty minutes before the Pixies took the stage promptly at 9PM. Filing onto the stage to momentous cheers, behind the band was an industrial lighting rig that perfectly matched the vibe of the former warehouse. The impressive set up helped set the tone for the evening and bathed the stage in green light as the set kicked off with “Gouge Away,” the closing track from Doolittle. Following this familiar track was a new song, “Plaster of Paris,” from the recently released Head Carrier. Though fans may not have been familiar with the band’s newer work, all eyes were still on the four members as they displayed their impeccable, well-rehearsed musicianship.

Without a single word between songs, the band went right into “Caribou,” one of their oldest and most well-known tracks. The dreamy song had fans swaying and dancing along. Though fans were clearly enjoying themselves, there was no pushing or shoving, and each person in the crowd kept to themselves – a refreshing change for those used to getting jostled to and fro while trying to admire a band’s set. However, as Pixies ran through an eclectic mix of tracks like “Cactus,” “Bel Esprit,” “Nimrod’s Son,” and even a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On,” the band did not interact with the crowd at all.

Letting the music do the talking, not a word was said between songs, not even so much as a “We’re Pixies,” “Thanks for coming out,” “How is everyone doing tonight?” or any other of the usual banter. Even so, fans sang and bounced along through Doolittle classics “Crackity Jones,” “Mr. Grieves,” and one of their biggest hits, “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” The crowd became more still during songs from Head Carrier and 2014’s comeback album Indie Cindy, but the band still managed to impress with performances of “Tenement Song,” “Um Chagga Lagga,” and “Talent.” Rounding out the expansive set were some other older hits like “Hey,” “Subbacultcha,” “U-Mass.” “Velouria,” and “Havalina.”

Strangely, just as the band did not interact with the fans, they hardly interacted with one another, either. This is not to say they were not enjoying themselves, it merely was a case of complete focus as each song saw each member standing performing their part perfectly. Performing like a well-oiled machine, though the set list changes drastically each night of their tour, they continued with huge hits “Where Is My Mind?,” “Debaser,” and “Broken Face.” Though these songs did not make their appearances until the end of the set, the crowd had been storing their energy for their favorite as excitement in the room reached a peak during “Debaser” and “Broken Face,” with many hoisting their phones in the air, ready to record the moment.

After the band finally filed off stage, the room filled with cheers from fans who wanted just one more song, even though Pixies had already played for nearly two hours. The crowd was obliged, of course, as the band came back for a dry ice-filled performance of 1989 B-side “Into the White” before calling it a night and putting an end to their U.S. tour.

All told, Pixies played nearly 40 songs crammed into an impressive two hour set that left fans buzzing as they headed out into the warm Brooklyn evening. Notably absent, though, were major hits “Here Comes Your Man” and “Gigantic,” but no one was complaining after witnessing this epic performance. On stage, Pixies sound almost exactly as they do on their recording, and from the first song, Pixies had fans dancing with themselves to their favorite new and old tracks. While this may have been the band’s last show in the U.S. for some time, as mentioned, Pixies will be taking over Europe for the remainder of the summer. Never fear though, come September 19th, the Pixies will be hitting up all the cities they missed the first time around. For local fans who cannot get enough, the band will be making stops at Asbury Park in New Jersey; Port Chester, New York; as well as New Haven, Connecticut. Act now, because much like much of the first leg of shows, these dates will more than likely sell out in a flash.  

Photos by: Laura DeSantis-Olsson Photography

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