Aug. 28, 2013
Better than: An entire show celebrating the 20th anniversary of Whoomp! (There It Is), also released in 1993. Most likely. No disrespect.
Kim Deal doesn't want to talk about the Pixies, and that's fine. Her real fans don't need to talk about the Pixies either. Except to say: Kim, you sure seem happier when you're not in the Pixies.
"Um, hi, we're the Breeders," said Deal, a wide smile spreading across her face as she surveyed the adoring, nearly sold-out crowd at the Fillmore last night, taking it all in before playing the distortion-heavy guitar intro of "New Year" -- except then she had to stop again because her twin sister Kelly was still fiddling with her pedals over on the other side of the stage. "Hope we're not bothering you or anything over there, Kel," said Kim. "Yeah okay, I'm ready," replied Kelley. Siblings make for great stage banter.
What followed was easily the most joyful, earnest, yet somehow humble (and, as the guy who maybe didn't realize he was still shouting as we all stood in line for the exits put it, "really fucking SATISFYING") reunion show we've ever seen.
This was the second of two Fillmore dates on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary re-issue of 1993's Last Splash, featuring the album's original lineup: A stoic Josephine Wiggs on bass, Jim MacPherson on drums (though those two traded on "Roi" to stay faithful to the album) and Carrie Bradley on fierce violin and backup vocals, alongside the sisters Deal. It was also the second of two nights on which they performed that album straight through in under an hour, left for approximately two minutes, then came back in order to perform the entirety of their Steve Albini-produced debut, 1990's Pod -- which Kurt Cobain has called one of his bigger influences -- "as an encore."
Worth noting: Last Splash, recorded in San Francisco, was released a few months after Kim Deal left the Pixies for the first time, something she did again in June of this year.
Call it projection, but her lighthearted exuberance in the spotlight -- her full-throated wail on "Isis," her smile throughout the delicately restrained first 90 seconds of "No Aloha," before launching into full headbang mode as the rest of the band jumped in, the excited announcement that "we borrowed the same mini-Moog that we used to record this album 20 years ago!" -- they all seemed like the behavior of a woman coming up for air, a lady who just let go of a very specific ball and chain, bemused to find her charisma alone can still control a room.
And control, it did, though Deal made every attempt to have each band member share in the nostalgic glow. Her voice is probably stronger than ever, still capable of leap from deceptively honey-sweet on sing-alongs like "Divine Hammer" and "Drivin' on 9" (though Bradley nearly the stole the show with the violin on the latter) to something like a wounded animal on a super heavy version of "Happiness Is A Warm Gun."
As for Kelley on lead guitar -- for someone who didn't know how to play one chord when her sister suggested she join the band, she's certainly come a long way. In harmony, her voice still adds a singularly clear, decisive contrast to Kim's husk; on "I Just Wanna Get Along," the one Breeders song she ever does solo, she also got to sneer the best lyric of the night: "If you're so special/why aren't you dead?"
As the band came to the end of Pod, a sweat-drenched room full of mainly 30- and 40-somethings out late on a school night stopped their pogoing and put their arms in the air, begging the Breeders to do something, anything else. Alas, there would be no encore for 1990 and 1993. But if the 7-inch solo singles Kim has been dropping over the past year are any indication, she'll be back soon in one way or another. From the looks of this show, she's enjoying center stage far too much to go anywhere else for long.
Remember when rock 'n' roll frontwomen could wear baggy T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, headbang with unwashed hair and no makeup and not give a shit, and still have a hit video on MTV and a single that stays on the Billboard charts for months? That's all.