Five thoughts: Pixies at the Chelsea (October 21)

The Pixies, performing Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Erik Kabik Photo Group
Jason Harris

1. I’ve seen Boston’s best indie rockers perform live three times: once with Kim Deal, when the band reunited and played its seminal album Doolittle all the way through; once when Paz Lenchantin was relatively new to the band, having replaced Deal on bass and backing vocals; and this time, with Lenchantin firmly entrenched with the group. This was the best performance I’ve seen from them. They are a taut, touring machine. The 35-song setlist was played with fervor, showing the many aspects that make the Pixies so special. It was nonstop music, nonstop vigor, nonstop Pixies.

2. Songs two through five—“Wave of Mutilation,” “Where Is My Mind,” “Here Comes Your Man” and “Gouge Away”—rocket-launched the set into a sea of momentum and energized the full house. “Wave” was actually played twice—the U.K. Surf iteration early, showcasing the slicing guitar of Joey Santiago, and the traditional “Wave” toward the end of the main set, keeping the adrenaline going and hitting all the right hard-rock notes.

3. One silver lining of the recording industry’s self-destruction is that it gave second life to bands like the Pixies. I recall an interview in which David Bowie wondered how the music industry could exist if bands like Pixies and Granddaddy couldn’t make a living as recording artists. Now, if you aren’t a pop star, you’d better be able to tour, and that’s what this wrecking crew does, seemingly nonstop. They’ll never be as big in the U.S. as they are in some foreign countries, but a full house at the Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan—that's nothing to sneeze at. They’ve proven to be masters of midsize venues like this across America, bringing nightly setlist changes and high-energy performances with them.

4. The Pixies seem to be more comfortable attacking their noise-rock tracks these days. Surfer Rosa cuts “Isla de Encanta” and “Something Against You” take on new lives live. Props to Black Francis for still having the ability to hit those primal screams after 30 years.

5. If the Pixies ever look for another new bassist, opener Mitski should be a leading candidate. The enchanting singer-songwriter—check out “Your Best American Girl” to fall for her voice—seems to be a character out of sketch comedy, in that she’s fierce while singing, then barely audible when she introduces the next song.

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