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Black Francis to Magnet: Philly didn’t get an encore ’cause Philly didn’t earn an encore

IMG_7315Last month, alt-rock icons Pixies played a double-header show in Philly, following up a lively stripped-down Free at Noon at XPN with an electrifying headlining set at the Electric Factory.

Well, electrifying except for one thing. There was no encore. The set approached thirty songs and was nearly two hours long, but when the band left the stage, it left for good. Here’s how our Chris Sikich described the scene at the time:

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.

Chris was more diplomatic than commenter Pat Bateman, who weighed in to say that the Pixies earlier acoustic performance was:

Unlike the evenings performance @ the Electric Factory where they hardly acknowledged the crowd and then unceremoniously walked off and never came back for an encore. Tweeted by Black Francis yesterday we weren’t enthusiastic enough as a crowd but now deleted. What a douchebag. #howtoloseafanin140charactersorless

The story develops with the latest issue of Magnet Magazine, out today. It features an epic, 7,000 word cover story interview by Jonathan Valania (of Phawker fame), who sat down with Black Francis backstage at the Factory show in question and (among other things) got a very honest explanation of what happened from the artists’ perspective. The juicy pull-quote goes like this:

The crowd didn’t earn an encore. I’m old-school that way. I’m Vaudeville. I find that when the audience is younger, they want you to hold their hand and smile and kick the beach ball around, and we don’t do that. We don’t do jazz hands.

On the one hand, the tradition of the rock show encore is played out and tiresome. It’s like, come on, we stand there, we cheer, but we know you’re coming back. Because EVERYBODY comes back. Because it’s expected. So kudos to Pixies for taking that back and reserving the encore for times when it actually means something.

On the other hand: ouch.

To read more of the interview, which also touches on Kim Deal’s departure from Pixies with similar candor, check out an excerpt over at Phawker. For the entire thing, find yourself a copy of Magnet at your local newsstand or order one online. Below, a video from happier times and our Free at Noon concert.

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Watch the Pixies perform “Here Comes Your Man” at XPN’s Free At Noon

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

On Friday, January 24th a stripped down Pixies performed during a sold out Free At Noon. The band, in town playing a sold out show at the Electric Factory, played a nine song set of tunes both old and new, drawing from their two recent EP’s alongside hits like “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and deeper album tracks like “Nimrod’s Son,” and “Caribou.” Below, listen to the full show and watch their performance of “Here Comes Your Man.”

Watch the Pixies perform “Greens and Blues” from their set here.

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An electrifying Friday from the Pixies at their second sold out show of the day

Pixies | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Pixies | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
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.

(Read More – The sold-out Free At Noon from Pixies brings a warm mix of old and new to World Cafe Live)

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The sold-out Free at Noon from Pixies brings a warm mix of old and new to World Cafe Live

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

This afternoon alt-rock pioneers Pixies warmed up for their sold-out Electric Factory show with a stripped-down, high-energy Free at Noon performance. The nine-song set beautifully balanced music from the band’s new EP releases alongside hits like “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Here Comes Your Man” and deeper cuts like “Nimrod’s Son” and “Caribou.” The band was friendly and engaging with the enthused crowd; Black Francis cracked jokes with the front row, new bassist Paz Lenchatin (playing violin on this afternoon’s arrangements) was cheerful and charming, and guitarist Joey Santiago locked the two into a groove alongside drummer David Lovering; they were tight when they needed to be, and explosive when they needed to be as well. See a gallery of photos from the show and listen to an archive of the performance below; after the jump, check out the setlist.

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Interview: Pixies’ Joey Santiago talks about remaking his band for a new era

Pixies | Photo by Michael Halsband
Pixies | Photo by Michael Halsband

For more than 25 years, Pixies have remained an influential yet enigmatic force on the underground scene, their taut guitar lines and harsh melodies, interspersed with moments of real sweetness, an inspiration for acts as varied as Nirvana and U2. Their impressive catalogue runs the gamut from wispy post-punk haunters (the ghostly “Where Is My Mind”) to face-melting ragers (the screeching “Rock Music”) to surprisingly breezy pop songs (the near-perfect “Here Comes Your Man”)—all accentuated by front man Black Francis’s distinctive and aggressive vocals.

The past decade has certainly been a turbulent one for the band, who reformed in 2003 after a 10 year hiatus, and spent the next few years playing a string of reunion shows before surprising fans with an unannounced EP, EP1, in September 2013. The release came shortly after the news that bassist and longtime member Kim Deal, whose floaty back-up vocals and killer bass chops added both balls AND corporeality, had quit. The band is now touring with bassist Paz Lenchantin, whose resume includes A Perfect Circle, The Entrance Band, and Zwan. They’ve also released another EP, EP2, featuring four new, hard-hitting rockers.

The Pixies will stop by the Electric Factory on Friday, January 24 (tickets and info at the WXPN Concert Calendar) and will warm up for the show with an appearance at XPN’s Free at Noon concert series (RSVP here UPDATE: sold out). In anticipation of their show, I rung up guitarist Joey Santiago, whose wily, unpredictable guitar lines are an integral part of the Pixies sound, to talk fans, blackout curtains, and why Kim will always be the darling of the Pixies. Read on!

The Key: You guys just released a new EP. What has the response been like so far?

Joey Santiago: It’s been received very positively, particularly the song “Blue Eyed Hexe” (although I particularly like “Magdalena”). The one “criticism” I’ve heard is that maybe it sounds like AC/DC.  To which I say…and what is the problem with that? (laughs)

TK: Do you think people’s reactions are swayed as a result of your decision to release it suddenly, without fanfare?

JS: No, not at all—this is the second time we just dropped the bomb on people. It’s been positive. It’s a surprise, but in this day and age, you can surprise people because everything is digital. I think people appreciate the surprise. I think the days of telling people when you’re going to release a record are over.

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Pixies release new EP 2 and video for “Blue-Eyed Hexe” (playing Electric Factory on 1/24)

from "Blue-Eyed Hexe" by Pixies
From “Blue-Eyed Hexe” by Pixies

Pixies follow up 2013′s EP 1 with four more new songs, collectively titled EP 2.  Along with the record comes a video for the song “Blue-Eyed Hexe,” animated with a collage of image cut-outs and recurring brains, clowns, and x-ed out eyes.  Pixies’s Black Francis, explaining the background of the song, said “It’s a tale from the northwestern part of the UK, and it’s a witch-woman kind of song.  That’s what a ‘hexe’ is, and ours is a blue-eyed hexe.”  Check out the video below and pick up tickets to the Pixies’ January 24th show at the Electric Factory here.

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Mike Gordon of Phish to play Union Transfer in April; listen to a new song, “Ether”

Photo by Autumn De Wilde

Phish bassist Mike Gordon announced the release date for his fourth solo album, Overstep, and a spring tour that includes a stop at Union Transfer. With it came the album’s first single, “Ether,” a loose and cerebral piece that starts sort of dark, with icy guitar picking, but builds. As the rest of the band comes in, the slow-stepping tune murmurs around thumping bass before getting a little brighter at the chorus. It continues through many movements, stopping and starting throughout the six minute song that explores a range of dynamics.

“Ether” shows a slightly more serious side of Gordon, but still manages to keep his tongue-in-cheek charm around the 5:20 mark when he squeals, “Little boy won’t you come back home,” in the voice of what’s supposed to be his mother. According to Gordon’s website, Overstep is the first time he’s given someone else full producer role to work on the album with him, rather than Gordon producing the album himself. And it shows on “Ether” that producer, Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies), has had some influence on Overstep. This song’s much more structured and thought-out than some of Gordon’s prior work  – such as what’s found on 2008’s The Green Sparrow. It’ll be the first solo album he’s released since 2010’s Moss. For more Mike Gordon humor, check out his 2014 tour announcement video below.

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