I’ve been following well-established Boston alt-rockers Pixies for at least six or seven years, ever since I picked up their Wave of Mutilation: Best of Pixies compilation. On Wednesday, January 22, I finally got to experience them live at New Haven’s 100-year-old Shubert Theater. The show was mostly sold-out, but thankfully I got a good view from my mezzanine seat.
The opening act was one that I’ve never heard before: FIDLAR. They’re a young Los Angeles-based garage/skate punk band signed to Mom + Pop Music, and they put on a pretty awesome set with their rock-out energy and cranked-to-11 guitars. I could tell that the audience liked them too, because two teenage girls behind me were going absolutely nuts, shouting and cheering for FIDLAR upon hearing them for the first time.
We were all psyched to see the Pixies finally come on, of course, and they kicked it off in a low-key manner with the mellow “UK surf” version of “Wave of Mutilation.” I had only heard the fast, electric-guitar version of that song, so I thought that maybe the whole concert would be in the same style. I was very wrong, because while “Nimrod’s Son” started low-key as well, it soon launched into full-rocking mode. The thirty-one song setlist captured most of my personal favorites as well, including “Vamos,” “Caribou,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and – Pixies’ first new material in almost ten years – “Bagboy.” Six of the songs were from their recently-released EP1 and EP2 – those songs were enjoyable as well, despite the fact that those EPs have gotten very mixed reviews from critics. My biggest concern for the show was the recent departure of founding member Kim Deal, but touring bassist Paz Lenchantin did a pretty good job of filling in for her.
It was a really enjoyable experience to see both bands for the first time, particularly with Pixies handling both their new and classic material excellently. After playing favorite (and Fight Club end-credit song) “Where Is My Mind?,” the members of the Pixies put down their instruments and waved approvingly at the cheering crowd before launching into the encore: the catchy “Hey” and heavy, vibrant “Planet of Sound.” I sat next to a wife and husband who were at their first Pixies show as well: they’d been listening since the band’s mainstream heyday in the early 90s. It was fun to see such a diverse age range, showing the enduring appeal of the Pixies’ unique brand of rock.