Enough of horsetracks and stadiums! I was finally back at a club – the Electric Factory in Philly – to see the Pixies. It was great to strut into the club after the opening act had finished, grab a drink, and end up about 75 feet from the stage. Ahhhhhhhh. The club scene is so superior to the stadium/arena setting! (Let’s not talk about standing for a few hours on concrete floors, ok? Thanks).
Now there are of you out there that don’t care for the Electric Factory. When it first opened, I saw a few shows there and the sound was harsh. But they have done a lot to improve the sound, and they got rid of the DNA-laden couches stuffed into the dank corners. I’m still a little freaked by how you get out of the place quickly in case of an emergency, but assume that there must be other exits that aren’t used routinely. They do a good job with security, and the sightlines are generally good – but you need to be careful if you are standing on the sides due to some pillars that result in obstructed views. It’s a big club, but I’ve never had a problem getting a good spot. All in all, I like it.
So what about the Pixies? If you put on a Pixies album from the 90s, it still sounds fresh and challenging even today. Their music was way ahead of its time. I’ve always liked them, and viewed them as a great transition band between the punk/new wave scene and later grunge rockers. I had never seen them and was happy when one of my crew suggested that we partake of the opportunity.
I’m not going to lie to you: this band is probably the least crowd-interactive band I’ve ever seen, right up there with the Feelies, the Cars, and some others. They simply came out on stage, and played music. Not one “thank you,” “how are you,” or “hey Philly” in them. In fact, I don’t think they took even one break between songs for the first half hour or so. No changes of guitars, sips of water, nothing. Just straight music, no bullshit. If you’re coming thinking that there might be some Jagger swagger, think again.
Even when the band did finally stop, it was for as minimal time as possible. It was a straight-music onslaught. And they delivered the tunes that they knew the crowd wanted to hear: “Monkey Gone To Heaven,” “Bone Machine,” “Nimrod’s Son,” “Caribou,” “Gigantic,” “Debaser,” “Gouge Away,” “Here Comes Your Man,” and “Where Is My Mind” were all memorable tracks. This is a band that didn’t sell a ton of records, but were hugely influential in the music scene, and these songs show why they were – they still sound amazingly modern and new.
They are not the most exciting band to see. There isn’t a lot of moving about on stage. They shun spotlights, and most of the time, play only with backlit lights. They stay in their positions on stage, and don’t even interact much with each other. It’s not boring, but it’s also not going to vault up into your top-ten concert list. Black Francis has an intriguing voice, and Joey Santiago can play some hot solos on the axe, but otherwise, this is a nothing-special band in terms of stage presence. Kim Deal left the band a while ago, and taking her “girl” place now is Paz Lenchantin. David Lovering pounds the skins.
But just when I was about to write them off completely on the stage-presence scale, they pulled a stunt that was fun. It was a very cool thing that they did was at the end of the show. They did not really leave the stage prior to the encore. Rather, they flooded the stage with dry-ice smoke, turned the lights down so that they were silhouetted, and then played “Into The White” with tons of smoke pouring out the entire time. Then, at the end of the song, they amped up the smoke, and simply disappeared into the fog. See my pictures below and you’ll get a taste. It was good rock theatrics and a bit atypical compared with the rest of the show.
One more nice thing about the Electric Factory: street parking. They charge you $30 to park in a crammed lot right next to the club, but if you’re willing to walk a block or two, there is ample street opportunity. And you don’t have to wait for the slow crawl of cars to exit the parking lot. BRP, being the cheap-ass dude that I am, found an amazing street spot and was out of there like my butt was on fire (it’s hot, but not on fire, hahaha).
My next review is going to require you to suspend judgment on BRP. I was in Florida and went to a casino show – so you know it’s a has-been trying to cash in on the casino circuit – but it was so much fun. I’m going to leave you right on the edge of your seat with that one, and I apologize if the blood doesn’t circulate well in that position. But that’s how it’s done here at BRP – tantalize until the tipping point and then leave you hanging. Hahaha, I wish!
See you soon, hotties. It’s time for me to go do something else for a bit, and you, too. Turn up the volume, step outside into the early summer heat, and enjoy the fabulous world all around you. I saw a lightning bug the other evening – super cool, first one of summer. But don’t get carried away - come back soon, ok? Ok!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.