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I saw The Pixies and Jellyfish at the Academy Theatre.
How the Pixies Strike a Chord
The Pixies were organically gutted out of the earth during the early grunge movement. When I say that, I say it with sincere respect and love of their creativity. Translating music into an almost surreal slap in the face brought devoted fans to listen to their music, go to their performances and buy their CDs.
I saw them play a show right before their first break up in 1993 at the Academy in New York City. This was even before I studied their lyrics or read about their music background and philosophy.
Superficial things I liked: They had a girl bass player and backup singer, Kim Deal, with perfect, understated delivery. Their lead singer Black Francis (Charles Thompson IV) had all his nerve endings exposed on stage. He held back nothing. The drummer (Dave Lovering) was a tightly run time clock with endless energy. The band rounded itself out with startling, edgy Joey Santiago on lead guitar.
More significant things I liked: The music from this Boston-based band was and is well crafted, angular, tittering from quiet trance to violent screaming. The words are influenced by surrealism and arranged between Kim's tuneful backup vocals to Black Francis's Holy Ghost explosions.
In the 80's, record companies created their own fabricated stars. Youth music was losing its street creds and disillusioned teens and young adults needed music that spoke for them. The late 80's early 90's brought a welcome break from over-produced highly polished pop music.
Their breakthrough album Doolittle for me and many others was a benchmark in alternative rock music. My era was the mid 80's, rock had gotten tired and soggy. Doolittle had so many songs with power and uncontrollable artistic pulse. It WOKE US UP! I still listen to it regularly on my iPhone.
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Not only is this music collection critically acclaimed and put at number 227 in Rolling Stone's all time top 500 greatest albums, it is a permanent fixture on my listening devices.
The Pixies During the Time of Doolittle
Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision -Salvador Dali
An example song in Doolittle is called Debaser. The definition of Debaser in this song means to break with standards of morality and what is considered 'art'. The imagery compressed into the words and music is inspired by the Salvador Dali short film Un Chien Andalou (1929), in which a calm woman is filmed having her eyeball sliced. In this album, the Id is exposed, Sexuality, guilt, mental illness and disgust are not off topic. Other songs include studies on toxic waste, despair and unrequited love.
With all this seriousness, they do have an ability to view themselves with a sly, sardonic humour. They are not a contrived product of the record industry. That's why it works. That's why a person like me, a positive glass-half-full type of person can still relate to and enjoy their music. Because it's real.
Let's put it this way, the Pixies inspired Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, a band that was also an eruption out of youth angst.
The Pixies are currently touring and released a new single in 2013.
Pixies' Doolittle 33 1/3
The Kindle Edition
This book is a great overview of the Pixies. It has detailed song interpretations and an interview with Charles Thompson (Black Francis).
Where is My Mind?
Monkey Gone to Heaven, Tame
Their new 2013 single and video - Bagboy.
I Recommend This As Well
Album: Surfer Rosa
Before Doolittle there was Surfer Rosa. More surfing riffs. Just as angular. Hits include 'Gigantic' and 'Where is My MInd.'
Taking on the Jellies
What's better than going to a rock concert? Going to a rock concert with your sister and mom!
It may not sound 'hip' but when my mom and sister visited me in the spring of 1993 in New York City, I got tickets for a concert at the Academy on 43rd Street. The band we saw was the Jellyfish.This power pop band was actually new to me. I was playing drums in a band called The Peaces and my bandmates raved about them and said I simply must go. The little amount of music I heard sounded great. Apparently, they put on a good show, they dressed colorful in a rave-like style, and I thought my mom wouldn't get too blown out of her seat (fingers crossed). I don't have pictures of the concert but I was so proud to have my mom and sister share this musical experience with me. I only saw them once or twice a year so it was a real treat.
Off to see the Jellyfish
Here is my band during this time. This version of The Peaces comprised of two sets of brothers and myself! I was only with them for about a year but it was fun. I hadn't pulled this photo out in years, yikes, forgot I was a blonde then. You know what they say: Old rock musicians never die, they just stay under the illusion they never get old, lol.
So off to the concert we went. Since I was with family, my other band members got their own tickets and sat separately.
Jellyfish is a band originating from San Francisco. The main members and songwriters were Andy Sturmer, lead singer and drummer, and Roger Manning, keyboards and guitar.
They specialized in strong in-your-face power pop with creative instrumentation. They were expert at creating music 'hooks.' Along with others, I would compare them to Queen, the Beach Boys and the Beatles. They were influenced by many great bands before them and they didn't try to hide it. A lot of their music choices were very obviously a Beatle's lick or a Queen's harmony. Their sound was intense and saturated. Kind of like your ballerina music box on steroids.
The concert was smoking, the most striking thing was the lead singer in the front playing drums STANDING UP! He balanced on the left foot and playing the bass drum with the right. They were able to pull off their studio sound live. My mom and sister really enjoyed the evening together with lots of screaming fans.
Bellybutton - Spilt Milk is great too.
I cannot believe they didn't make it any bigger than they did. Dripping with well written lyrics with just enough satire to be cheeky. They teetered on the edge of being over-produced, but the sound they got is still wonderful to listen to.
Performance: Ghost at Number One
Bye Bye Bye
Cheeky Group Picture
The Academy Theater, 1993
The Academy Theatre 234 West 43rd Street New York City (Not to be confused with the Academy of Music on 14 Street). The Academy was a great venue. It carried a certain air of intimacy, being an old classic concert theater. Many acts performed there including The Rolling Stones. There were at least a couple tiers of balconies and it felt like you were going to a theater that showed ballets but instead, it was rock and roll!