House of Blues Anaheim
On the extended world tour, in support of their new album Head Carrier, The Pixies are currently swinging back through California. Last night, they stopped in Orange County for a sold-out show at the House of Sardines. It’s difficult to understand the perspective of Dan Aykroyd, who recently told the Weekly that he and his fellow friends / performers designed the House of Blues to provide an outstanding experience for people who love music. Well, they got the people who love music bit right, anyway; the venue attracts great acts, and the fans always come. But unless those fans get there early enough to stake out a great spot, or pay top dollar for one of the elevated cocktail lounge seating areas, they’re either going to have to sacrifice breathing room or their ability to actually see the band as it performs.
From an upstairs perspective, this reporter had a much better view of the fans of Black Francis’s proto-alt-rock band than of the band, itself, which made for an interesting sociological study. It was clear to see that the crowd was mostly comprised of 30-50 somethings. In the frontmost half of the sardine pit, the stifled bodies were still close enough to singer / guitarist Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering, and bassist Paz Lenchantin to have their excitement for the band triumph over their discomfort.
Eight people in the center of the crowd tried, somewhat successfully, to mosh throughout the show, while a nearby eagle-eyed security guard stared at them while licking his chops and presumably wondering if it would be worth the effort to fight through the crowd in order to break it up. The sweaty bodies that surrounded the micro-pit didn’t seem to mind the spirited activity. An impressive number of people appeared as though they were being given orgasm-inducing electro-shocks when the band played raucous numbers like “Broken Face,” “Gouge Away,” and “Mr. Grieves.”
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Meanwhile, the folks up front and the folks up above held up their cellphones throughout the show, trying to capture a little piece of the magic. Fortunately, even for the poor souls who couldn’t see shit, the sound was great, and the performance was terrific. The set lasted about an hour and a half and consisted of probably 30 songs. The material ranged from throughout the band’s career, and included many great songs, including: “No. 13 Baby,” “Havalina,” “Debaser,” “Tame,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” and “Where Is My Mind?” For the latter song, even the smooshed people joined in for a chorus of “Ooohh oooo”s, which began as soon as they identified the opening chords of Francis’s acoustic guitar.
In a bittersweet moment, Lenchantin sang “All I Think About Now,” from the new album. The song is an ode to Kim Deal, The Pixies’ original bass player, who has not performed with them since 2013. The show concluded with an encore of “Into the White.” This was a fitting end to a set that began with the band playing in darkness, with stage lights backlighting the musicians. As far as the music went, this was a great show — an iconic band tore through their catalog with strong, positive energy. As far as the logistics of the event went, the fire alarm that sounded out in the venue after the band had finished up may have been the result of some smoking bar food that had been left on the griddle too long, but if not, it would have been a poetic response from one of the sardines, who decided to vent a little frustration with a good ol’ fashioned fire-alarm prank.