for some reason i never got into the pixies while they were around. "monkey gone to heaven" made an impressive dent in my consciousness at the time, and the "UK surf" version of "wave of mutilation" was an enjoyable song on the excellent pump up the volume soundtrack. but most everything i heard after that seemed really boring and straightforward. they were just another alt-rock band to me, and i didn't mourn their passing. i actually had the chance to see them opening for the cure, but i found their show too loud and abrasive at the time (even moreso than love and rockets at their loudest) and i stayed as far away from the stage as possible .
then slowly, over the years, their name came up again and again. i seemed to recall various friends of mine having the surfer rosa CD, whose unmistakeable cover i would periodically find in record stores. i realized one of my favorite engineers, steve albini, had recorded the album. the massive drums, blistering guitars, and strangled vocals of pj harvey's rid of me and nirvana's in utero echoed through my head. one day i was in a café and "bone machine" started up. by the time i paid the check i knew i had to get my own copy. even better, the reissues have come on pilgrim tacked on as a bonus. it quickly became one of my favorite CDs of all time, as i couldn't believe i'd been missing out for so long. and realized here was yet another classic band that i didn't get to enjoy live. until the rumors started a year ago. since i'd heard the split was very bitter, i didn't think a reunion show would actually happen, much less a tour. rarely have i been so happy to be wrong, as months later pixies sold out 8 consecutive nights at the hammerstein ballroom. kudos to them for doing that instead of one big show at the giant booming gymnasium known as madison square garden.
regardless of the ridiculous price i paid for my ticket, the privilege of seeing this band live was entirely worth it. from the first moment they took the stage it was magical. if a bad note was struck, i didn't notice, and it would only have added to the fearsome noise they made as they tore through multiple songs without pausing. from poppy crowd-pleasers to scathing punk to the now-familiar sound of the cornerstone of indie rock, the band rarely disappointed. everyone went so wild when they finished, they didn't even get to leave the stage, soaking up the roaring adulation until deciding to encore with "gigantic," ending the night as it began, with the raspily angelic voice of kim deal, giving a needed counterpoint to frank black/black francis' yelps and screams.
the title of this post comes from the beautiful song of the same name, which the band opened with.