Just Did It: The Pixies’ “Doolittle” at Hammerstein Ballroom

“Got me a movie, Ah ha ha ho, Slicing up eyeballs, Ah ha ha ho!”

“Don’t know about you, but I am un chien Andalusia!”

The Pixies performed the second of four shows last night at the Hammerstein Ballroom here in NYC to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their mega-successful album “Doolittle,” playing the record in its entirety from start to finish. Jay Reatard opened and played his long, loud, and widely-grafted re-creation of the best of all rock n’ roll music from the 70s on. Then a few video screens projected some of the re-edited and re-formatted black and white imagery from “Un Chien Andalou,” a film by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali shot in 1929. Notorious for its slicing of an eyeball with a razor blade, the film inspired The Pixies’ first song “Debaser” off their 1989 album.

Yet the band started their set with four B-sides. Clever, I thought, because once a record starts there ain’t a lot of room to deflect the listener from presupposing the next track. Then came “Debaser” and the crowd knew where to go from there.

Last night was the first time I have seen The Pixies perform live. They disbanded in 1993 while I was still in high school so it’s no real surprise that I missed them during their heyday. Black Francis’ vocals were spot-on strong and Kim Deal brought adorable excitement for the band, which stayed remotely quiet throughout. Her vocal parts/songs have always been some of my favorites. Lovering’s drums were far from rusty, in fact at points they were the absolute highlight, and Santiago provided the surf rock-solid foundation. For all the criticism they are receiving for brazenly capitalizing off an old album’s years long success with steep ticket prices, I think they rocked it and maybe it is because of the fact that I’ve had 20 years to harbor enthusiasm and memories for this album.

I have learned, through this show and seeing Built to Spill perform their entire album “Perfect from Now On,” that there is something familiar and honest about playing a record live as it was recorded. As a fan, I know what I’m getting and the surprise comes in finding out how much I really enjoy that.

Posted by: Autumn.

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One response to “Just Did It: The Pixies’ “Doolittle” at Hammerstein Ballroom

  1. Went to a show @ USF during their Sell Out tour a few years back. The venue left much to be desired, but their performance was strong and Kim made me wanna learn to play bass…for a few days, anyway. I would love to have been there with you to hear Doolittle in its entirety. Jealous.

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