Pixies ruled Philadelphia on Friday, selling out both a rare acoustic performance at World Café Live’s Free at Noon and their nighttime Electric Factory show. By the time the band took the stage for their evening reign at 9:45, the crowd was warmed up from the freezing outside after putting their hands together and moshing to Los Angeles-based garage punks Fidlar.
When the revolutionary alt-rockers from Boston unleashed the first chords of “Bone Machine” that gave way to the surging “Debaser,” the night was set for some grand rock memories.
Lead singer and guitarist Black Francis, alongside guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and touring bassist Paz Lenchantin, belted out a nearly 30-song set that covered the expanse of their career. It would be tough to not satisfy most fans with the selection from such classics as “Where is My Mind” and “Wave of Mutilation” as well as their recent works, as represented by songs like “Bagboy” and “Magdalena.”
Backed by an impressive lighting arrangement that involved light reflecting off surfaces in the ceiling and their backdrop of stacks of glass boxes, they were dramatically lit for much of the performance. And the sound was glorious.
It was a stellar set that ultimately, unfortunately, left some wanting. The band said nary a word to an adoring audience that sang along and even crowd-surfed. And after what seemed to be a joyous end to “Nimrod’s Son,” with Santiago having great fun with his guitar and even exchanging his hat with a smiling Lenchantin, the band did not return — despite playing an encore at every other show on the tour, the crowd loudly clapping and calling for more, and the stage seemingly set for a return.
Certainly ruling the soundwaves is hard work and not always satisfying for all. But even though the abrupt ending left a sour taste for some at the end of the night, the rare delicacy of Pixies’ ferocious sound is destined to bring fans back as long as the band deigns to tour.