Monday, April 25, 2011

A Few Random Thoughts on Pixies, Arenas, Banjos, and Filth.

I went to see the Pixies on their "Doolittle" tour last night and have had a few thoughts kicking about my addled brain all day...

1) I am a bit of two minds on the whole play-a-fan-favorite-album-in-its-entirety concert concept. While I do love Doolittle dearly, and it was nice to know I was going to hear the whole thing and not just the "hits," there is a little something of spontaneity, anticipation, and surprise lacking. The upside of this being that I was able to say to myself "not my favorite bit, Ima hit the restroom."
It is also inevitable with this kind of tour that the band is going to have some degree of boredom with doing the same thing every night for weeks on end. While the Pixies acquitted themselves quite masterfully and energetically, there were a couple of moments when you could sense one or more band members thinking "oy, this one again." Though on the whole I do have to say that they rocked my face off, and their choice to highlight several b-sides before launching into the album, as well as their choice of songs for the encore ("Isla de Encanta", baby!) were quite inspired.

2) The Earth needs to open up underneath the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul and swallow it whole. Preferably after napalm has been liberally applied to the men's room to prevent any of that nastiness from getting into the soil. That place is a blight on the Twin Cities' musical landscape on every level, most importantly and egregiously, on the acoustic level. A new mid-sized venue must be found for shows too big for First Avenue and too raucous for the State or the Orpheum.

3) The banjo sometimes gets characterized as "corny" or "hick." The film "Deliverance" does nothing to dispel this myth. The reality is that the banjo is a remarkably versatile instrument that can be at home in almost any musical setting. Used properly in the right setting it can be one of the most hauntingly beautiful sounds in all of music. The song "Killer Crane" from TV on the Radio's new album Nine Types of Light illustrates this point quite effectively. It gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

4)The late, great Frank Zappa once said of the guitar: "From the very beginning when I used to hear those old solos on those old records I used to say, 'now here is an instrument that is capable of spewing forth true obscenity... Let's be realistic about this, the guitar can be the single most blasphemous device on the face of the Earth." Well kids, I'm here to tell y'all that Black Joe Lewis' guitar is positively filthy in the very very best way.

(Pictured above: Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys' guitar enshrined at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Now that guitar is filthy in more ways than one!)

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