Black Francis usually doesn’t have much to say on stage, and with the latest show by Pixies at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Thursday night, it was mostly to introduce the titles of new songs that will be on their upcoming album expected later this year. Hearing these songs for the first time myself, I’d honestly say that this as yet untitled new album may be their best since their original quadrilogy. Which got me thinking, as I took in the show and had fleeting memories of high school (where I counted Pixies and Depeche Mode as my favorite bands)… all four of their original albums were literally all released while I was in high school (Surfer Rosa in 1988, Doolittle in 1989, Bossanova in 1990 and then Trompe le Monde in 1991) and I saw them quite a few times in concert back in the day (even opening for U2 once). In any event, I love every song released during those formative four years (except the two I hated), so seeing them jam live is always such a joy, as their music was made to be performed.
The Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno remains one of my very favorite venues, and increasingly they have brought out more and more quality shows since their renovation back in 2015.
The concert venue is built around a one acre large stage (one of the largest in the world) that from 1978 to 1987 was host to MGM’s “Hello Hollywood Hello”.
The entire venue has been redesigned, with a standing room-only GA floor space in front of the very wide and deep stage (though with some artists and shows, the GA area is replaced with assigned seating). The venue also features theater-style seating going up to the back of the venue. There is also special VIP seating areas up higher on the far sides of the two walls.
The venue also has some of the best concert lighting and sound around. I’ve never been disappointed in either, and lights and sound was excellent for this concert.
As with my past experiences, the staff at Grand Sierra Resort impress. I attend a lot of concerts, and the staff at the GSR are consistently very friendly and professional. I give the venue my highest recommendations!
This was an Another Planet Entertainment production, and once the show got rolling, it looked nearly sold out – the place was packed and buzzing.
This was my first exposure to Basement, who were an excellent pick to support Pixies. They are an English band formed in 2009. Their fourth album, Beside Myself, was released late last year.
The brought a ton of sonic energy to the stage, and a few of the songs reminded me a bit of 7 Seconds.
Below are some photos of Basement performing on stage (scroll downward and photos will begin to appear – click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):
- Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar)
- Joey Santiago (lead guitar)
- David Lovering (drums)
- Paz Lenchatin (bass guitar, backing vocals)
It is anticipated that a new album from Pixies will be released some time later this year, possibly as soon as September. With the band changing up their set list night to night, there is always a chance to preview some new music, and they did not disappoint. They have been on a double headlining tour with Weezer (who I enjoy quite a bit), but this was a one off show for them at one of my favorite venues, so I opted for the longer Pixies solo headlining show.
Pixies have also announced a new podcast series, “Past is Prologue”, which promises “an intense view of the recording sessions“.
The last time I saw Pixies live was at Ace of Spades in 2016, and let’s just say that there is a remarkable contrast between the sound at that venue and at GSR. This venue was really a perfect fit for them, and it was a true showcase of their raw sound dialed in perfectly (just the right amount of low frequency to accentuate Paz Lenchantin’s work on bass).
I would still rank the show at Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur in 2014… as my modern day favorite, as it was just soooo different, but I would put this one second for sure. It was amazing.
So who are the Pixies?
Black Francis (AKA Frank Black, AKA Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV) and Joey Santiago met in college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A few years later in 1986 they recruited Kim Deal and, failing to get her sister Kelley to join on drums invited David Lovering to become part of the group, soon after dubbed Pixies. They literally began as a garage band, rehearsing in a garage and ultimately playing small gigs in the Boston area.
Pixies were soon after signed to the now legendary 4AD based on their demo, “The Purple Tape”, which became the basis for their debut, Come On Pilgrim. Their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa, came out in 1988. The follow-up and what many regard as their best album, Doolittle, came out in 1989.
Keeping on their prolific pace, the band released Bossanova in 1990, and Trompe le Monde in 1991. Then they broke up.
Kind of like The Smiths before them, they created all of this brilliant music, and just as quickly, it all came to an end.
So much amazing music in such a short period of time, and at a pace in which the masses could never catch on, let alone catch up. But those who went along for the ride knew that this band was something very special, and the Pixies had an impact and influence on others in music that sent ripples through the soundscape in the late 80s and early 90s and beyond. Even Kurt Cobain himself said Nirvana was “basically trying to rip off the Pixies.”
I discovered the band in ’88, and they became a favorite immediately. They were making music unlike anything I’d heard before. Such crazy ideas and unusual pacing and hooky songs. They were at times irreverent a decade or two before that became “a thing”. They were so far ahead of their time that many just couldn’t wrap their head around this style of music that they invented. But it spoke to me, and became part of the soundtrack of my life.
Pixies always come to the stage with no set list and Black Francis just takes the lead and the rest follow. Joey to this day remains one of my all-time favorite guitarists – he is still just amazing.
They played a lot of my favorites, kicking off with “Cactus” and hitting “U Mass” and “Debaser” later in the show.
A new song, “This is My Fate”, was definitely my favorite of the new selections… especially watching David Lovering on drums.
I didn’t make notes of the set list, but will update here if I find it online somewhere… I think I counted four all new songs.
Below are some photos of Pixies performing on stage (scroll downward and photos will begin to appear – click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):