Why the Pixies are no longer my favorite band

Pixies_Black_Francis_Steve_Cohen.jpg
Photo by Steve Cohen
Nope.
On April 13, 2004, I stood in the balcony overlooking the stage at the Fine Line. Two friends from college flanked me, and we smoked cigarettes at a frantic pace. A life goal, one we thought would never be attained, was about to take place: we were going to see the Pixies live. We had talked about the possibility for years, most often while listening to Trompe Le Monde (then my favorite, because of "Letter to Memphis") or Death to the Pixies (then his favorite, because of the different version of "Gigantic") in our dorm rooms or ratty college apartment. "What if they did get back together? What would you want to hear? They'd have to play 'Bone Machine' and 'Where Is My Mind?,' right?" Yes, in fact, we were right. It's one of the few times I've been overcome with emotion at a live show.

That night is burned into my memory forever. The guy who jammed $500 cash in my face for my tickets and me laughing at his offer; watching my friend Sam wade into the crowd and try his best to get near the front -- he didn't even come close; how Francis, Joey, Kim and David all looked the same but different; and Kim Deal crying at one point, overwhelmed with what was taking place. The Pixies had long been my favorite band by then, their five albums of loud-quiet-loud, simply structured and oft-oddly titled songs never getting old, no matter how many times I listened. I still think that. But the years since that show have done nothing but, at best, slowly diminish their raw power and influence; at worst, they've completely eviscerated a legacy with a bloodlust usually reserved for literary lycanthropes.

Let's be clear: the Pixies are no longer my favorite band. And that's the Pixies' faults. They've done almost nothing but half-ass and con their way through nearly everything since that Tuesday night in April of 2004, and I've slowly grown to resent it.

See also:
Pixies expand North American tour dates -- Minneapolis in October

Also, I don't hate them and never could (go listen to Surfer Rosa -- still my all-time favorite album -- and then tell me you hate them with a straight face), but the shine has come off the chrome quite a bit and rust is starting to form in a few places as well. It's gotten pretty ugly.

"Bam Thwok," which surfaced in 2004 as the long-awaited new Pixies material, was an embarrassing disappointment, sounding about half as good as you think a song titled "Bam Thwok" might. They played Coachella. They toured to celebrate Doolittle's 20th anniversary. It seemed okay, but on the other hand, right around the time of the Doolittle tour, it started to seem like a tease that had been going on for five years and somehow nobody seemed to notice until just then. That tour lasted for two fucking years.

Don't get me wrong, that album is fantastic, but no album is that great. Where was the new stuff that always seemed to be hinted at, yet never materialized? The rumors that tensions between Black Francis and Kim Deal had reached a boiling point began to swirl again and again. It seemed like eventually we'd end up with no new material, though our pocketbooks would feel a bit lighter despite that fact. It was like we, as fans, we're participating the world's slowest, longest game of Three-card Monte ever -- "Is the queen of hearts here? Hmm, in your other hand? Um, is it actually on that Breeders tour? What the fuck, guys?"

"Bagboy" arrived last year surrounded by a lot of hype (too much to live up to, regardless of song quality, if we're being fair) but its failure to deliver was stunningly epic in nature. The first time I heard it, I had turned my car on and it was mid-song on the radio. "What's this garbage?" I wondered aloud; then I recognized Kim Deal's voice and my heart sank -- and then it turned out that it wasn't even her. By this time Kim had taken the Breeders back out on tour, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Last Splash and looked like a goddamn genius for doing so. It seemed the Pixies were imploding, or at least turning into that inside-out monkey (gone to heaven) in that scene where the early telepod experiment goes horribly wrong in David Cronenberg's The Fly.

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26 comments
slapbackguitar
slapbackguitar

That's why I just say my favorite band is Kim Deal, whatever she does.

Andy Larson
Andy Larson

They were a band ahead of their time and when in their prime barely anyone noticed. Many of the fans, some too young or some not in the know discovered them after they broke up. The band never got its due credit or financial success. The same thing happened with the Replacements. I'm in the same boat with both bands. I was just coming of age when they were disbanding. I saw the Dootlittle performance at Roy Wilkins. It was fine but I could tell they were doing it only for the money. Part of me can't blame them for trying to earn a living and recoup some of the financial rewards that many less groundbreaking groups enjoyed. Yesterday's band will never be able to be what they were nor be able to re-create the magic. And rarely will they make a new record as good as the ones they made in their 20s. That goes for everybody, even the Beatles. Unfortunately us younger fans have the choice of either seeing the old timer reunion tour and enjoying what is left of them or stay home. That's what I'm doing in September. I got the tickets and am going to see the two original Replacements at Midway. At least we got to see the bands from our day in their prime. I have lots of good memories from all those times.

apologist
apologist

WHO THE FUUUUUUCK CARES about if you do or do not like the Pixies?

Tell it to Thought Catalog, boringster.

Mike Green
Mike Green

I was at the Breeders show at 1st Ave . It was fantastic! Great show! I skipped the last pixies concert. Felt no need to see them again.

Nate Raabe
Nate Raabe

Is there anyway to filter your opinion section and just get your music news? One more negative opinion piece and I'm unfollowing you

Chris Early
Chris Early

Kim Deal was one of my first loves. I wrote a love poem to her and Kim Gordon of sonic youth when I was 13 yrs old called "2 Kims are Better if Won." It was about trying to win them a prize from a ring toss at the carnival (and it was spectacular!). In the poem I was unable to hook a ring on a bottletop and thus won the affection of neither. And so shall it be in October at state theatre, for I am going to the pixies show but will remain, alas, no nearer to Kim Deal's heart. The pixies aren't genies, dudes. They can't conjure up wishes or bring back the past or get along like a sitcom family just because we want to stomp and dance and weep and gnash teeth and hear them play their amazing, transcendent music which changed all our lives. The pixies don't suck. The pixies rule. Way back when I was a child-poet, punk Rock Rimbaud of west Tennessee, I wrote a poem for Frank too, played to the tune of Public Enemy called "we gotta take our Francis black." And so it is, with or without Kim deal, we gotta take frank and Joey and Dave ...and the girl from Zwan (who, let's face it, must have some chops). It's a dream show for me. I won't be sad. 3 out of 4 of pixies ain't bad.

Wayne Robbins
Wayne Robbins

aahh yes ..i feel the same way about city pages reviews of movies as well .

Brian Hoffmann
Brian Hoffmann

Just came here to say the same thing! No Deal, no Pixies!

PerryCarter
PerryCarter

You do realize that isn't Kim Deal singing on Bagboy, right? It was actually a guy named Jeremy Dubs, who happened to sing in a style that resembled hers on the track. The parts she recorded for the Indie Cindy album were eventually deleted and re-recorded after she left.


On top of that, the band has hinted that Kim Shattuck wasn't let go for the stage dive, but mostly for not syncing with David Lovering too well during the performances. 

matt
matt

last week there was an article defending sublime and now this? wtf is going on?

Christa Byler
Christa Byler

Your article is crap. You make no real reasons to be so slashingly judgmental to The Pixies. They aren't gods. And the lyrics don't ever get weak. They've sold out but who doesn't when one's so well known and liked. And the albums get weaker with time, but that's no reason to be like an adolescent who's favorite band is changing again.

Thehophead
Thehophead

I saw the pixies back in '92 at first ave. it was not the best show and they only played about 45mins because frank and Kim were fighting on stage ( like normal). I would not go to the pixies after Kim left the band. I still like them....

helmmatthews
helmmatthews

Charles being a dick isn't exactly breaking news. His arrogance and control over the band has been well-documented going back to the late eighties. Lou Reed was known for being a prick, too. Still like the product from both.

Rob Keith
Rob Keith

The USF Special Events Center Pixies show was so awful and depressing, I didn't listen to them for years. They didn't want to be there. I've come around since. I love Bossanova. Live? I'm afraid to ever try it again.

Chris Lunceford
Chris Lunceford

Kim Deal does not play or sing on Bagboy. It's a sound alike.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@apologist WHO THE FUUUUUUCK CARES about if you do or do not like this article.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

"Way back when I was a child-poet, punk Rock Rimbaud of west Tennessee,..."

Please don't ever write that again.  You have to be w-a-a-a-a-y more tongue-in cheek to get away with that, and if you're being that tongue-in-cheek, you wouldn't write. that.

barf
barf

"...punk rock Rimbaud of west Tennessee..." Seriously fuck off please. Aren't you like forty-seven or something? You don't have the clarity to realize at your age that saying something like that is totally pathetic and lame? P.S. Rimbaud gave up poetry to go make money selling guns. How's that for your shitty artistic idealism?

Alirox
Alirox

@Thehophead  That's when I saw them. Super Bowl Sunday.


Like nearly all bands, you got the feeling that they only had a few more years worth of music in them....

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