The Pixies at The Space at Westbury
September 22, 2017
On a pleasant Friday evening in Westbury, NY, The Pixies channeled The Beatles by delivering a letter perfect, note-for-note standout version of "Helter Skelter" during which every aspect of the song, even the scream, was perfectly executed. It was a perfect ending to a show that began with the band appearing onstage as the Fab Four's novelty tune "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" served as its intro music.
The Pixies were formed in Boston, MA in 1986. The band is currently comprised of Black Francis AKA Frank Black (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), David Lovering (drums) and Paz Lenchantin (bass, violin). Lenhcantin, took over the bass duties following the departures of original member Kim Deal and touring bassist Kim Shattuck.
The Pixies' music is a combination of many genres containing bits, pieces and elements surf rock, blues, alternative, pop, art rock, punk, psychedelia, indie rock, country and hard rock. The band's song lyrics center on interesting and sometimes bizarre topics. The lyrics have been known to be about fantastic and outrageous subjects such as extraterrestrials, violence, The Three Stooges, mutilation, voyeurism, outer space, California, incest, Puerto Rico and a number of biblical characters.
After a short stalwart set by the local Long Island band, Sunflower Bean, The Pixies took command of the sold-out The Space at Westbury venue and delivered a powerful performance that treated the audience members (many of whom came dressed in vintage WLIR, and, of course, Pixies t-shirts) to an amazing show. The venue's stage was decked out with a set-up that could have easily been used on the main stage of an outdoor festival featuring backlighting, large amplifiers and a smoke machine that billowed so intensely that, at times, the band was all but obscured behind its output.
The band provided its fanatic followers with a just under two-hour, sonic assault featuring eccentric, eclectic and thunderous modern rock. On this evening the main area of the venue was configured without seats. The Pixies performance had the crowd bopping, dancing and singing along from the first notes of "Wave Of Mutilation" through the ending notes of "Helter Skelter."
The band crammed 30 songs into the performance. It functioned as a well-oiled machine. There was no talk between songs, just one song after another. The band members approached the performance much like a Starbucks barista approaches coffee. The set featured some of the group's more radio-friendly songs such as "Where is My Mind," "Monkey Gone To Heaven" and "Velouria." It also included many favorites and album cuts that sent the audience out of its collective mind. "Nimrod's Son," "Silver Snail," "Ed Is Dead," "Plaster of Paris," "Motorway to Roswell," "Magdalena" "Oona," "Snakes," "U-Mass," "All I Think About Now," "Havalina," Snakes," "Tame" and “Hey" each made their appearance during the main set. At the end of each song, it was obvious that the band had crowd dying and hoping for more. Anyone questioning this fact was assured that this was true by the constant barrage of song requests thrown toward the stage. Many were answered as the band rocked and rolled through its extensive canon, but some were not. Noticeably absent on this evening was "Here Comes Your Man"--which is arguably the band's biggest hit. The encores were an amazing version of "Into the White" and the previously mentioned tour-de-force version of "Helter Skelter."
The performance was outstanding. A Pixies show always features tight but raw musicianship. The band delivered the songs with arrangements that were very much like the original studio recordings. These songs presented live were perhaps a little louder and due to the live environment slightly more passionate...and the audience loved it.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon