Alternative rock legends, The Pixies and Modest Mouse, have definitely passed their prime. That doesn’t mean they can’t still play their once revolutionary tunes for loyal fans across North America. The duo recently wrapped up their summer ending North American tour, and I had the chance to attend their penultimate show in San Diego at Gallagher Square.
Unfortunately, I missed the opener, Cat Power, because I was waiting in line for a new Pixies t-shirt, but I secured a spot near the front of the stage just in time for Modest Mouse’s set. Issac Brock, Modest Mouse’s frontman, strolled out with the rest of the band sporting a custom Padres jersey. The band opened with “Dramamine,” an older song from their discography, but an essential and it did well to set the mood for the rest of the night.
Brock’s unusual voice sounded even rawer in person, especially as they moved through some of their older work. They even used a banjo for a couple of songs, which was mesmerizing to hear behind a fast paced rock track. My favorite moment from the set was when Brock sang violently into the guitar. It sounded like the guitar was attempting a distorted scream through the amp, and it blew my mind to say the least.
Modest Mouse wrapped up their set with some of my favorite songs from the band, including “The World at Large” and “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine.” Of course, they couldn’t forget “Float On,” arguably Modest Mouse’s most popular song. They played it with a chaotic precision and the lyrics “and we’ll all float on OK” almost brought tears to my eyes.
The wait in between sets wasn’t very long as the crew quickly put up the Pixies’ drum set sporting an iconic shiny red Pixies logo. After a quick lights and sound check, Pixies’ frontman, Frank Black, strutted out to the stage along with drummer David Lovering, guitarist Joey Santiago and newer addition, bassist Paz Lenchantin.
The band opened with two quick tracks of their 1989 classic “Doolittle,” playing “Gouge Away” and “Wave of Mutilation.” After moshing around with my friends to Black’s grungy guitar and vocals, upsetting a few older fans around us, the Pixies moved into their newer work, which I’m largely unfamiliar with.
After playing a few newer songs, Black suddenly screamed into the mic “Hey!” Everyone in the crowd knew we were about to get one of their best songs “Hey.” The song rejects a typical song structure, and is truly one of a kind; to hear it live and played to near perfection was an insane amount of fun.
This started a dive into the Pixies’ old discography, playing songs off of 1989 album “Surfer Rosa,” 1990 album “Bossanova,” and 1991 album “Trompe le Monde.” It was truly a treat for someone like myself, who loves their original work. They played the songs incredibly well and despite looking old you could tell the band is still youthful in spirit.
They played nearly the entirety of “Doolittle” which is arguably their best album and my personal favorite. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” was definitely a highlight of the set, as Black played the melancholic track with an intense amount of emotion.
Speaking of emotion, The Pixies couldn’t leave out their classic, “Where Is My Mind?” Hearing the opening guitar chord and the ominous “ooo” sung by bassist Paz Lenchantin, was euphoric. It truly struck a chord with every devout Pixies fan in attendance.
The only thing missing from the show was former bassist Kim Deal. It would be impossible to try and replace Deal’s iconic bass lines, but I think Lenchantin was a worthy stand in.
The band concluded their set with a Neil Young cover called “Winterlong.” It was a great way to end the night as Black sang the chorus “come back now, come back now.” After watching the band take a bow; I left the show with a cool new tour shirt in my hands and certainly planned on coming back.