14 August 2008


I finally got around to seeing loudQUIETloud, a recent documentary about the Pixies. I had a chance to see it in the theater when, a couple of years ago Lincoln Center ran an excellent series of music-themed documentaries (I caught 'Does Everyone Stare' at the same series, which I wrote about here.)

It's one of the saddest musical documentaries I've ever seen. Maybe I'm ratcheting it up because the Pixies are so dear to me, but it almost hurts to watch. The filmmakers follow the Pixies as they re-form and cash in on their cult status from the late '80s/early '90s, when they put out a catalog of near-perfection. Never have I heard a band craft albums as effortlessly as the Pixies, one after the other.

The thing I found so sad about the movie was how mundane it is to be a Pixie. There are no rock 'n' roll trappings to be found. All they had to do was re-learn their amazing songs and show up. No booze, as required by Kim; no drugs outside of David Lovering's Valium addiction, which should make the Top 10 list of cheesiest addictions, a list that Lester Bangs would no doubt top with his cough syrup.

There was a nervousness that was expected, but no real excitement. And what hangs over the band and is never ever discussed at any length is the tension that tore them apart. It feels so alien -- not forced, but...well, numb. Charles approaches his job with the enthusiasm of a government worker. Android/guitarist Joey Santiago, the sanest guy in the band, seems more concerned about scoring a film. Drummer David Lovering is a nerdy 12 year-old in a nerdy 40-year old body who can't relate to anyone. Kim Deal, on the other hand, has always been extremely visceral, and has such a magnetic personality. But she brings her twin sister Kelley along with her for support and looks very shaky.

In the end, everything works out -- the tour is a huge success, and they keep playing. The live performances are kinda listless, but honestly, the Pixies were always distant on stage. But I was confused and a little saddened by the fact that it didn't mean 1/1000th as much to them as it did to me and droves of other fans.


I'm getting a slight taste of what the Pixies' members mindsets may have been, albeit on a much smaller scale. Monday night, Microdot is playing its first show with Rob in, I'm guessing here, 3 1/2 years. We have our good friend George to thank--if not for his annual Via Skyway blowout, who knows if we'd ever play together at all.

So when Dave pointed out that before next Monday's show that, hell, we'd all be in the same room together and could play a set, it made sense. They're good songs, if I may say so.

Here's the beauty of playing with the best guitarist I know and the best drummer I know. Dave and I pooled our mp3s and listened to recordings/demos, and picked a batch of songs. We got together and ran through them, whittling down the list a bit.

Two weeks later, we spent an hour with Rob before a Via Skyway rehearsal and ran through them. The set includes 3-4 songs he's never heard before, but that doesn't matter. Rob processes shit quick. I bet a lot of people cheated off him in high school.

And now, four days before the show, I'm calm. There's no real significance to this show. Dave, Rob and I are friends, see each other occasionally, and are going to play some of our very best songs. After Monday, we may do it again, we may not. Nothing to worry about.

I usually get anxious & a little stagefright before I take the stage. I don't think it's going to happen this time. We're going to play most of the songs really well, and the ones we don't...well, you may not even notice if you're there. I'm pretty confident most people will enjoy a bunch of the songs, and I'm very confident that Dave, Rob and me will.

And that's it. I've got that inner quiet.


Blogger Dfactor said...

Sweet - I'm expecting snaps or video. :-)

1:37 AM  
Blogger stinkrock said...

Thk u Hanna Montana!!! Look at u all upside rite!! :/

1:45 AM  
Blogger Tony Alva said...

I wish I could be there. Can't the S&M guys bring the mobile unit?

10:26 PM  
Blogger Hernandez said...

Whoop!! You guys better play "New Ordinary."

1:08 PM  
Blogger Jackson said...

I'm certain that it can't be much fun to tour with Frank.

I know a guy who works in music publishing (yep, through Chan, we should talk...), and he told me that Frank totally swindled the band on a publishing deal a few years back, probably taking advantage of the drug addled state of his band mates.

How can one not love Surfer Rosa?

7:51 PM  

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