Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Five Thoughts on Last Night's Pixies Concert

Greetings from Washington, DC. One of the theoretical advantages of my freelance life is the ability to work anywhere. The reality is that working from the road sucks; if I'm visiting family and friends, I want to give my time and attention to them, not to work. Trying to work while I travel annoys both my hosts and my clients, frustrates me, and means that I get up very early or stay up very late trying to get it all done. I should know better.

That said, I took last night off to see The Pixies at DAR Constitution Hall. They're playing a two-night stand, closing their U.S. tour. The concert is their legendary 1989 album Doolittle, plus B-sides and whatever they feel like playing as an encore. Last night's concert ranked with the best shows I've ever seen; if you're in DC and have a spare $75, you owe it to yourself to try to catch tonight's closing show.

Last night's show was so great, in fact, that I'm still trying to process it all. Instead of a more organized post, here are five disconnected thoughts about last night's show.

1. 1989 was a great year. The Berlin Wall fell; the Cold War ended; President George Bush solved the savings-and-loan crisis (he really did, until the banks collapsed two years later); I had a great job and a great roommate and the world at my feet. Batman and Ghostbusters II came out, and the Pixies released Doolittle.

2. Nothing in life is as valuable as an old friend. Part of the joy of last night's concert was seeing how much fun the band was having onstage. They were as tight as a precision machine, listening to each other and clicking in perfect sync. You don't get to that point without years of practice, of fighting and reconciling and rediscovering what it was you liked about each other in the first place. Last night's concert was the power of a 25-year friendship, and it was a delight and a privilege to see.

3. Kim Deal rules. The woman is 48 years old, and she looked like a kid last night. She's struggled with addiction in public and private; her weight's been up and down, along with her hair length. Now she's skinny, her hair is short, and she's never looked or sounded better. She did the commentary between songs — not much, but what she said was goofy and clever. I caught myself singing along with her parts on the songs, because that's what I did when I first listened to the albums.

4. Scientists need to study Black Francis' vocal cords. Last night's show came at the end of months of touring, but he was still bellowing and screaming at top volume, with no signs of strain — and then hit the high notes on "Caribou" during the second encore. Unbelievable. He too looked and sounded great.

5. There is no reason we can't all still be doing the things we loved to do when we were 24. Black Francis and Joey Santiago are the same age as I am; Kim Deal and David Lovering are older. They're better now than they were the last time I saw them, sometime in the early 1990s. They have all the old energy, but it's better organized; they're smarter, they're happier, they're better at what they do. They are truly in their prime, and long may it last. It's an inspiration.

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