28 December 2009

(photo via the internets)

honorable mention: Witch/Earthless @ Ottobar 2/28/09
I wish I could go to a show like this every night. 


One time, I watched a documentary about Jay, and in it he said that he never wants to hear people clapping at the end of his songs. I didn't clap at all at this show, but I had a really good fucking time.

By far, the most head nodding intensive show I went to this year.

7. Gang Gang Dance @ Ottobar 8/5/09
I went to this show on a whim, and really really dug what I saw/heard.

6. HEALTH @ Sonar 9/27/09
To be fair, Pictureplane was real rad as the opening act and Double Dagger played a sick closing set, so the whole show was dope, but for the sake of this list just leave it at the fact that HEALTH was awesome. 

5. Dinosaur Jr @ Ottobar 5/2/09
This show ruled.

4. Wavves @ Ottobar 9/30/09
This was the show where I discovered that the dude in Wavves is just a bro. In terms of fun at a show, this one is way up there. The haters can keep hating, and the year end lists can keep shutting it out, but Nathan Williams p.k.a. Wavves was one of the cooler musical things about 2009. He's a bro who wears flannel and watches Seinfeld reruns, and he happens to have a band thing as well, and it all kind of works.

3. Woodsist/Captured Tracks Festival 7/4/09
Not to slight the first day or anything like that, but the second day of this showcase was somewhat unbelievable. Woods, Kurt Vile, Thee Oh Sees, and Dum Dum Girls are the first standouts that jump to mind. Further reflection calls forth Real Estate and Ganglians. Not to mention the Fresh & Onlys and The Beets. A weekend that consists of drinking beer out of a paper bag while chain smoking in a deserted lot, with bands and fireworks going off in every direction passes for a good time. 

2. Deerhunter/Dan Deacon/No Age @ Sonar 7/31/09
Far and away, this was the most fun. Three bands playing at the same time in one room. Gary and I had reservations about this one, but once the set started they were forgotten. 

1. Pixies @ DAR Constitution Hall 11/30/09
There is a small part of me that feels like it saw the Beatles on that November night. At the time, it certainly seemed so. They played Doolittle in it's entirety. There were two encores. Kim Deal was smiling. Kind of a big deal.


26 December 2009

Woods: At Rear House
I've been listening to this record almost nonstop for the last few days. I really dig it. They do some different stuff with the vocals on this album, and some of the guitar parts kind of, sort of remind of me of Neil Young. 

19 December 2009

Years Best

(artwork by Gary, glassyeyeddesigns.blogspot.com)
The time has finally arrived. While the year doesn't officially end for another week and a half, it may as well be over and in that spirit No Gift for the Gab proudly presents the top albums of the year. These are the top records of the last twelve months. Not all of them may necessarily be the best from a critical standpoint, but they are all favorites. These are the ones that got spun the most. They are responsible for the better feelings that were felt in 2009. 

There Is No Enemy  The Eternal
Popular Songs Farm    
14-11. Built to Spill: There Is No Enemy, Sonic Youth: The Eternal, Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs, Dinosaur Jr.: Farm
This may seem like some sort of cop out, but when you think about it there is really no better way to start off this list. Basically, the Mt. Rushmore of indie guitar bands all released albums in 2009. In a way, it would be unfair to assess them with the other records of the year. These are all bands that have already put in their work in the proverbial mine shaft. Their resumes already sparkle, and these latest offerings only cement their place in dozens and dozens of hearts and minds across the world. Farm might be the best one out of this batch. There is a swagger on this album that can't be rivaled by anything else. Also, the video for "Over It" is probably one of the best of the year.


10. Real Estate: Real Estate (available from Woodsist)
Back in July, this band played Woodsist/Captured Tracks and it was one of those times where after the set was over, you walk over to the merch table to buy a copy of the album. And then you get over there, and are informed that there isn't an album per se. They have a seven-inch or two, but there's no proper record. You then shrug your shoulders, and try to think of ways to pass the time until the day when the album will come out. This record is so damn pleasant that it's hard to be angry about the wait. It's one for the bros in the suburbs, and to reinforce this point there are not one, but two tracks on this album which contain the word "suburban". There's not a hustle and bustle to this or some sort of hectic, city vibe. Not with song titles like "Beach Comber" and "Lets Rock the Beach". To be fair there is a song called "Atlantic City", but it doesn't have any words to it and one gets the impression that it's probably about driving to Atlantic City or something else very chill. 


9. Cymbals Eat Guitars: Why There Are Mountains
I had a window seat on a bus that was headed north on I-95 when I first heard this album. It was early in the morning and the sun was just rising, but I was already wide awake. That mainly had to with all the coffee I had been drinking in the twilight, but hearing this album for the first time was a swift kick in the ass. I wanted to yell, but I was on a bus in a very public setting so I couldn't. I wanted the bus to go faster, but buses are somewhat large and hard to maneuver. All I could do was stare out the window, and dance in my head. This album was becoming my dark passenger. Kind of funny how one of the freshest records of the year is a band whose sound comes across as a combination of "classic" bands such as Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, and the Pixies. It's that classic sound that still makes it fun to listen to months and months after it's release. This album was really easy to get into, and with most tracks going over the five minute mark it was also an album for boozy, summer nights hanging out underneath the deck. It was the album to listen to during those long days at work, and for even longer car trips. And, that's what it was. It was an album. No track skipping necessary. Start to finish, one of the best of the year.


8. Dan Deacon: Bromst
Baltimore, represent! Dan Deacon attended SUNY Purchase where he was classmates with Regina Spektor, and his graduate study was in the field of electro-acoustic and computer music composition. Bromst is his second full-length, and on it he has a new toy that allows him to make sounds at a clip faster than previously thought possible. His live shows already exist in their own special universe, but this album comes closer to mimicking that feeling than it's predecessor Spiderman of the Rings. While not suggesting that Spiderman of the Rings is a lesser album or anything like that, Bromst is just a tighter package. It calls to mind sweat-drenched masses in a tiny club moving excitedly, all to the same beat. Given the choice between more beer and more dancing, these cats are going to keep it moving. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's sure as shit my kind of party.


7. Atlas Sound: Logos (available from Kranky)
This list would be incomplete without mentioning this album. Bradford Cox said that there are parts of this album that he doesn't even remember recording. Fortunately, the sounds are immortalized on record. Mass hysteria broke out over the summer when "Walkabout" first leaked. The internets hailed it as the song of the year, and speculation ensued as to what the whole disc would sound like. The end result was an album that sounded new and old at the same time, but one that was intended for the bedroom crowd. It's intimate at times, and there are other moments it fills the entire room. "Quick Canal" seems to be the critically acclaimed joint, while "Sheila" is this writer's personal favorite. From a lyrical standpoint, it's kind of dark if that's the kind of meaning that you want to apply to it. In a grander sense, it's the comfort album for the year. I believe in Bradford Cox. 


6. Girls: Album (available from True Panther/Matador)
What to say about this one? Does one dwell on frontman Christopher Owen's upbringing which involves deaths, cults, etc., or does the writer makes this a focused review about how great and delightful the debut album is? Or do we just talk about the alternate version of the music video for "Lust for Life", which features lots of nakedness and a penis microphone. Or, we could talk about none of those things and just talk about the band. The internets have been all over this band for awhile. The hype swelled so high that even this site managed to provide a proper album review when it came out. (Writer's Note: To boot, I even shared a link on Facebook that talked about this band.) There's a storytelling vibe to this record that sucks you in. It makes you feel there. And then you start paying attention to the lyrics, and you might start to get a little sad but you're still enjoying it so it keeps spinning. You have a few beers, and you smoke some and the album is still playing. This continues for several weeks, and it never gets old. 


5. Woods: Songs of Shame (available from Woodsist)
Simply put, this was my favorite band of the year. I enjoyed listening to this album as much as anything else that I heard. I really dug it. Whether it was the nine minute jam, or the ninety second ditty that ends the record, I dug it. In my mind, "To Clean" was the joint of the year. I spent an entire summer's worth of lunch breaks sitting underneath my deck listening to this record. I listened to it in the morning time, and in the evening. It was the one consistently good thing that happened to me this year. 


4. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
It feels like this album came out a million blog years ago. It was only January, but still. I remember pre-ordering it, and then telling my roommate. She asked me why would I do such a thing because the way she saw it, the album was probably going to leak and she also said that it was probably going to sound like every other Animal Collective record. This would probably be a good time to point out that the album never leaked. There's at least part of me that believes that Merriweather Post Pavilion was such a stunning achievement, in part because it never leaked. The internets was so certain that it was going to happen, that it was just this huge waiting game. Nonetheless, I still reserved a copy early. The day it came was also the day Obama was inaugurated, so it was like "Yes We Can" on two levels. Yeah, there was the presidential stuff, but also, the album prevailed. It never leaked, and for the most part everyone heard it for the first time at the same time. It's integrity remained intact. And, it was awesome. My roommate was only half wrong in her second assessment. In a way, it did sound similar to the other albums. But at the same time, it was much different. It was a more evolved sound. It wasn't as random. Without analyzing it too much, all the lyrics seemed to come from the same place. It was just so perfect at the time. All of the sudden, 2009 seemed like the year of infinite possibilities. That didn't end up being the case, but this record is still quite good.


3. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
On the internets, there seems to be a 'BeatlesVsStones'-like debate when it comes to Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. It's a little strange since they don't necessarily sound all that similar. Technically, both of them fall under the ever expanding "indie" umbrella and they did have two of the better selling records for that genre in the past year but that's really where the comparisons end. There was never any doubt as to whether Veckatimest would be good, but rather it was a question of how good. And it still was way bigger than I had expected. Album opener "Southern Point" followed by "Two Weeks" was the best kickoff of the year. I always found myself having to smoke a cigarette after hearing it. It was that great. I do have to admit a slight bias, though, but to be fair it was a preexisting condition. I love Ed Droste's voice. It is my most favorite in the entire landscape of music. This probably sounds like hyperbole, but there are times where I really believe that his voice could win American Idol several times over. I remember when it first came out, Gary and I were driving somewhere and we were listening to it in the car, and we had been in the car for awhile so we had heard the album through several times, but Gary said "What's that one really awesome song?" and I said, "I'm not sure.", and then the next song started and we both said "Yeah, yeah. This is the one." Two minutes later, one of us would say "This song is rad, but it isn't the one I was thinking of." and the other one would agree. This happened with every song. Moral of the story: This album rules.


2. Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt 2
2009 was a pretty bad year for hip hop. There were some bright spots, but overall it was kind of awful. For instance, Rick Ross had the best rap record of the first six months of the year. Nothing was working. Eminem released a some sort of "concept" album that involved lots of talk about murder and such but it never took off with listeners. Wonder why? The Wale album got pushed back like thirty times, and was ok but it wasn't great. Blueprint 3 was supposed to be the album of the year based on conventional wisdom, but then it leaked and everyone heard it. It wasn't that hot. It had a simmer to it, but it was a grower album. It took several listens to get into it. Amidst all of this, Raekwon was preparing to release a sequel that was almost fifteen years in the making and he didn't disappoint. In all seriousness, one of the decade's best hip hop albums. It's out of this world, and most of it's strength comes from the fact that it's rooted in the past. Ghostface is on nearly every track, and there are cameos from Meth, RZA, and Inspectah Deck, and there's the added bonus of Meth and Deck both sounding better than they have in years. It's still not a Wu record, but it has that feel. To me, hip hop is the grandest form of storytelling known to man, and what I really dig about it is the fact that the subject matter consists of things that conceivably I will never experience such as cooking crack and selling said crack. Hearing Raekwon describe the ins and outs of these activites over beats by Dilla was the best mental vacation possible this year. This is the album that the hip hop heads needed this year. It keeps that east coast '90s sound fresh, which isn't to suggest that the sound wasn't fresh, but in a day and age when OJ Da Juiceman and Wocka Focka Flame are the kinds of artists that pass for popular rappers, then clearly there is a need for a hero to rescue us and his name is Raekwon the Chef. 


1. Bat for Lashes: Two Suns
This album made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I heard it for the first time. I found myself instantly hooked, and not just because I was developing a huge nerd crush on Natasha Khan. This record didn't sound like anything else I had ever heard. Apparently, she sounds like Kate Bush and/or Bjork, but I wouldn't know. I was transfixed by the album artwork, which was really the only reason that I gave this record a spin in the first place. Eventually, the idea behind the album broke through into my consciousness as opposed to merely digging this album. There's this character Pearl, and while one could make an argument that she doesn't know any better, she is kind of dangerous and scary. She's separated from her celestial twin or something cosmic like that, and without it she is on a quest to find companionship and love but she is so lost that she doesn't really know where to look for it, and she comes across as fairly innocent so anyone will let her in but they really shouldn't. In a very nerdy way, it's kind of like if the Phoenix character from the X-Men comics went looking for love. She's looking for something very basic and innocuous, but she's going to destroy everything around her looking for it because she has no idea as to what her strength is capable of. That description probably makes it sound strange, but let this writer assure you that it's cool. This is an album for the night. This is the faint green light in the dark. Just hold on, and don't forget your cigarettes. 
After looking this over, it seems entirely possible that I don't know what this album is about, but don't let that deter you. This album is special, I know that much. My words probably do it no justice.

15 December 2009

Before the week ends, there will be a list for the best albums of the year. Everything isn't set in place yet. I was thinking about it at work today, and at first I had ten albums to write about and then I had twelve and then I got up to twenty but then I scaled back to sixteen and then for a minute I thought that twenty five would be a good number. Nonetheless, it should be a decent list. Anyway, there are still records that didn't make it. These are the honorable mentions:

Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport
I haven't listened to this, yet. Gary bought it, but I haven't heard it. However, based on the band's previous body of work it seems like a safe bet to assume that the album is spectacular. I can't be putting records on the list that I haven't listened to, but I do want to cover all my bases. 


Ganglians: Monster Head Room
I just got this yesterday. While I am throughly enjoying the record it still has that new album feel to it, and as a result I'm not sure I could review it honestly. 


Baroness: Blue Record
If I was really cool then this would be on the list. Again, technically I haven't heard this album. I've heard one track, but that one track was really awesome and I'm inclined to believe that the rest of the album is rad. With cover art like that, there has to be something going on.

14 December 2009

If you haven't already done so, I would highly recommend clicking on the item beneath my profile in the right hand column. The one that is purple and bluish, and it looks like there's a curly haired fellow sitting on a bench. Yeah, that one. Press 'Play All'. It's going to play the album, Childish Prodigy, by Kurt Vile. The record came out back in October on Matador, and the player has been on this page for probably just as long. It just know occurred to me that I've never mentioned it before right now. This is a major failure on my part. This album is quite good. I've really enjoyed it up to this point. There's kind of a wide breadth of songs, but they're all pretty great. I saw him live over the summer, and that was real rad. It was outside and there was a whole lot going on, but everyone seemed to stop whatever it was they were doing when he started playing. The moral of the story is this guy is just as good on record as he is in concert. Dig.

And just to reinforce the point, here's a video for the song "Freeway". This obviously isn't the officially sanctioned video or anything like that, but it's all about the song anyway.

12 December 2009


New video from Times New Viking. The song is called "Born Again Revisited", and is off the album of the same name. For lack of a better phrase, I like this video. Without sounding like an ass, I find it to be very effective. When watching it, I'm instantly reminded of the show from a month ago. It's somewhat of a seamless transition. The songs sound good when they come from my radio, and they sound great when played live. This video fuses these two concepts. 

Bonus Video for the Weekend
 

This video is dedicated to Gary because he was the one who told me about it. Earlier today, I had an idea to get on here and dedicate a song to him but the song that I had in mind had the potential to start some unsavory rumors. The song I had in mind doesn't really have anything to do with the above video. The video itself is really rad with it's aging surfer protagonist. Oh, and the song is pretty cool as well.

09 December 2009

I Bought This on Amazon for Less Than a Pack of Cigarettes

This album possess a rather dubious distinction when compared to other artists in the history of "I Bought This on Amazon for Less Than a Pack of Cigarettes". I've seen them live on two separate occasions, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. To boot, I also already owned HEALTH/DISCO, which is like a remix record of all the songs on this album. Enough wasting time, though. There hasn't been a post like this in awhile, and I don't want to mess it up.
HEALTH may not be for everybody. I don't mean that in some sort of elitist, douche bag way or anything like that. This band is more than just loud, they're noisy. They make noise, and while there are fleeting moments when it seems to be too noisy and you start to think that human ears are not meant to hear such things it is nullified by the overwhelming awesomeness. The first time I heard HEALTH was when Gary and I were in Chicago, and I feel like we kind of stumbled into that one. Not stumbled like we were drunk, but rather we kind of just wandered in not knowing what was in store. And then there was this heavy tribal drumming, and the guitars sounded like they were being choked out for information. A very tall asian man seemed to take up the whole stage, but in fact there were three other dudes with him. There had to be because one man alone could never create the bevy of bizarre sounds that streamed out of the speakers on that July day. As luck would have it, Gary and I were in a very agreeable mood at the time and we didn't really feel like moving anywhere else and we had full beers although we weren't drunk yet and we had a pretty good spot and after we considered all factors we decided to stay and see HEALTH.
I had to stop that last paragraph because I felt like it was getting to a point where my next move would be telling the tale of the time we went to Chicago, and then I would be sharing all of the meaningful details and juicy tidbits and I just don't think that anyone wants to hear about that. Back to the album.
This record is short, and couldn't be longer than thirty five minutes. It flies by, almost like it's one jam. But it's not a jam. There are these haunting vocals, and you hear some synth-like creatures in the background, and they're the kind you hear in dance songs, but this is clearly not a dance song. It's not a jam, and it's not a dance. My hazy vision and skewed thinking tells me that this is what reality is supposed to sound like. The real world isn't all pleasant and ideal. At times, it kind of sucks. (Writer's Note: At no times does this album kind of suck.) Generally speaking, people ignore this fact. They block it out by dancing, or by spacing out to a crunchy jam. This isn't a condemnation, but in the larger scope of things it's the way things go. It boils down to awareness. How aware you are of the things that are going on around you. Awareness of what's going on around the world. Most importantly, being aware of yourself. I think scholars call it knowledge of self, but I might be wrong. And, I'm not saying that things are bleak all the time or anything like that. There are good times occasionally, but it's not like that all the time. There is a seedy underbelly to everything. It's the monster under the bed. It's there to be considered, but it can also be ignored. (Writer's Note: There's no ignoring this album). 
ANYWAY, the point I'm trying to make is that this isn't a conventional record. You can't really space out to it, or do anything else. The only option available is to listen to it. Just sit there and listen from start to finish. That's the other thing. This isn't the kind of album where you can jump around from track to track. There's no hit song. It's a singular entity, almost. 
Fact of the matter, it's just something different and it's something I dig.

08 December 2009

Best Albums of the Decade

The lists are beginning to arrive. It was always somewhat inevitable, and now that the calendar has reached December it seems to be the time to look back. Not only is the year almost over, but 2009 is about done as well. The first decade of the "new" millennium is nearly in the books. Just about every site that comprises what we know as the internets has already made this list: the best albums of the decade. It's a pretty tall order, but I would argue that it's important. The only way I can really tell time is by using music as a reference point. (Writer's Note: I mean time as in history. It always seems as if I can only remember important events and situations based on what music was playing at the time.) This list is completely debatable. Some of these are the best of the last ten years, but others are my most favorite of the last ten years and that makes them the best in my eyes. At the moment, I can't provide any comments to justify the rankings but I will totally defend any of these choices if I have to. My main goal is to at least come up with a better list than Rolling Stone. Truth be told there will be some similarities with this list and Pitchfork's list, but somethings are inevitable.

10.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell

9.
Sufjan Stevens: Illinois 

8.
Deerhunter: Microcastle/Weird Era Continued

7.
Outkast: Stankonia

6.
Spoon: Kill The Moonlight

5.
Arcade Fire: Funeral

4.
The Strokes: Is This It

3.
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

2.radioheadkidaho4.jpg
Radiohead: Kid A

1.
Panda Bear: Person Pitch

Honorable Mentions-
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs, Feels, Merriweather Post Pavilion
The Avalanches: Since I Left You
Jay-Z: The Blueprint, The Black Album
Dinosaur Jr: Beyond
The Walkmen: Bows + Arrows
Grizzly Bear: Yellow House, Veckatimest
The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow
Elliott Smith: Figure 8
Clipse: Hell Hath No Fury
The Decemberists: Picaresque
TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
Ryan Adams? Cold Roses? maybe Heartbreaker
The National: Boxer
Kanye West: College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation
Interpol: Turn On the Bright Lights
White Stripes: Elephant, De Stijl
Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
of Montreal: Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer?
something by Beck
something by the Hold Steady

05 December 2009

Currently Listening to...

J Mascis and The Fog-More Light
I unearthed this out of a pile of data discs that litter my desk. This is another post-Dino project for J, and if the internets are to be trusted then J, himself, recorded and arranged 99% of this record. Apparently, he turned part of his home into a recording studio and then went to work. There are actually several very cool components about this in addition to the way it was all formed. For instance, when J Mascis and the Fog went on tour, Mike Watt from the Minutemen played bass for the group. And sometimes, Rob Asheton from The Stooges would play with the band as well and they would cover Stooges tracks, and one time Scott Asheton and Rob Asheton both played with J and Mike Watt, and that one show pretty much put the wheels in motion for The Stooges reunion. However, there may be something radder. The group also recorded a session for John Peel, and the first track is a medley of three songs and one of those songs is "Range Life" by Pavement. So, somewhere out there is a recording of J Mascis singing a Pavement song. Holy smokes.

04 December 2009

J Mascis Continues to Rock More than the Rest of Us

"I tell people that I saved John's life by starting this band, but they don't believe me." This quote comes from a Tee Pee Records press release, which announces the arrival of Sweet Apple, a band from Cleveland by way of Massachusetts who happen to have J Mascis playing drums for them. He's also playing guitar and contributing vocals. Witch bassist and moniker inspiration Dave Sweetapple is also a member, as well as two dudes from Cobra Verde. 
According to the press release, John Petkovic is a singer and guitarist in the band Cobra Verde. His mother died, so he went for a drive. He ended up in the greater New England area, and when he got there he looked up J and Dave because they're all friends and they decided to chill. They told John to start writing songs, and said they would start a band. They called up the other guitarist from Cobra Verde, and then they had a band. 
They also have an album, entitled Love and Desperation which is scheduled to be released on March 30, 2010. The press release says that the record will have 12 songs on it, and will kind of sound like a combination of Dinosaur Jr, Witch, and Cobra Verde. Pitchfork premiered the first song today, and it goes by the name "Do You Remember". It's cool, and presumably is similar to what Cobra Verde sounds like because it doesn't really sound like Dinosaur Jr or Witch. At the moment, the band is working on a music video for the new single and after they finish that there will be a tour. 

01 December 2009

Pixies @ DAR Constitution Hall. 11/30/09

I parallel-parked. I'm not a great driver. I can get from point A to point B, but I will go several blocks in order to find a pull-through spot. The only time I have ever parallel-parked is when I took my driver's test. Even as a delivery driver, I still went the extra mile to find an easier way to park. However, it was absolutely necessary last night to find a place for the car. The Pixies were in town, and Gary and I were running slightly late.
DAR Constitution Hall is a fairly big place. It's where they filmed that one Chris Rock special. Dignitaries oftentimes use the Constitution Hall stage for various events, and last night was no exception. A sold-out crowd was on hand for a Pixies show that promised Doolittle to be performed in it's entirety. For the sake of brevity, 1989's Doolittle is the best Pixies album although if I'm a few beers deep then I would make an argument for Come on Pilgrim.
It was like something out of a Michael Cera movie. After hastily parking, and then speed walking down a few blocks, Gary and I arrived. We ran up the stairs, and flicked our cigarettes out on the way. We handed the lady our tickets, and she said, "You're just in time. They're just starting." Our tickets said we were in section B, so we veered right and took the stair well at the end of the hall. The usher took our stubs, and lead us to our seats. He stopped at row D, and pointed at the two seats in the middle. There were two women sitting, but the usher insisted that these were our seats. When informed of this, the two women in question gave Gary and I the stinkeye, and then unfurled wrinkled pieces of paper that they swore were their tickets. The show had just started, and it was dark. Curiously, they didn't offer the usher a better look. We were standing in the middle of the stairwell for an awkward minute, and then the opening chords of "Debaser" rang out and the place went nuts. Instead of arguing with the wenches, we took a spot in the next section over. 
The atmosphere was electric, even though just about everybody knew what the set-list was. The Pixies attract an interesting crowd. There were those who were actually listening to the band in the '80s, and there were those who started listening after they saw Fight Club. As opposed to some shows were everybody stands around with their arms crossed, only half of the crowd had arms crossed while the other half jumped around and threw their hands in the air. This was the Pixies, after all.
Seeing the Pixies live, I was torn by two thoughts. The first one being the unshakeable feeling that I was witnessing something akin to seeing the Beatles. That's not really even that much of a stretch. In the great pantheon of bands that I've seen, the Pixies are just about at the top in terms of grandeur, and more than that, they're basically the biggest American alternative band ever. In the grand scheme of things, they're up there with Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine as founding fathers of alt rock. Both Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke have compared the Pixies to the Beatles anyway, so the fact that I'm doing it right now isn't such a stretch. Seriously though, hearing "I Bleed" and "Monkey Gone to Heaven" live in person was like an out of body experience. These are songs and words that I know intimately. When I was a delivery driver, my car only had a tape player. There was never more than one tape in my car at any given time because I never felt like buying more blanks. I would just record something new over what was already on there. Once, I recorded Wowee Zowee onto tape and for three months straight that's all I listened to while in the car. Another time, it was Doolittle side one and Surfer Rosa on side two. I listened to that one over and over again. "Gouge Away" was one of my most favorite songs at the moment. "Mr. Grieves" and "Crackity Jones" are two of the raddest and most fun songs ever to listen to while driving around. On this Monday night in the nation's capital, I heard them up close. 
The other thought which I could not escape during the show, was the feeling that at any moment the band would completely self-destruct and the show would be over. This sentiment mostly has to do with the documentary film, loudQUIETloud- A Film About the Pixies. In that movie, the band is preparing for the first go round of the reunion tour but they just come across as a sad sack. The drummer has just lost his father, and responds by drinking tons of wine on camera and is presumably gobbling pills when the camera isn't rolling. There's one part where they're playing live, and the song ends but the drummer keeps going. He's in the midst of a serious drum solo, and everyone else is just looking at one another like, "What the fuck?" However, no one ever really confronts him about or anything like that. No one says anything. They just seem to have this incredibly tense relationship. It reminds me of this one pocket of my extended family that lives in New York. Even if there just sitting still, it just seems like everything is going to explode. 
There really wasn't any reason to feel so concerned about the state of the Pixies. After a few songs, Kim told the crowd that they were halfway through side one. And then after a few more songs, she announced the end of side one. It was kind of funny, but one kind of got the impression that Black Francis wasn't so crazy about it. Every time she did it, he would gesture at her and then she would gesture back. It was hard to tell what they were talking about, and it's entirely possible that they were talking about something different, but given their history it's at least plausible that he was telling her to can it and get back to business. This was a super minor wrinkle though, and may have been constructed solely through paranoia. 
It does bring up the subject of Kim Deal. I didn't really grow up in the '80s, so I never went through that phrase where bros fall in love with Kim. It was a little before my time. At the age when this happens, I was crushing on Gwen Stefani. ANYWAY, this happened to people and those people were at the show as well. Kim is also very popular among the ladies. I think it's some sort of female empowerment thing. Any girl's favorite Pixies song is "Gigantic". I had always had a hunch this was the case, and it was confirmed last night when they played it during the encore. All the women in that place started going bananas. All the cameras were focused on Kim, and her image covered the enormous screen behind the stage. Even those two skanks, who stole our seats, were dancing during that one. It was hard not to get excited. Kim had been so awesome all night already, but now she had everyone's attention. They had played "Where Is My Mind" right before, and that got a huge crowd response for obvious reasons, but when the opening notes of "Gigantic" started filling the auditorium and the gallery erupted it seemed like anything was possible. I even started to think that they would play "Ed is Dead" next. 
In short, the show was excellent. The Pixies manage to sound as sharp live as they do on record. On a more personal note, I hadn't been this giddy at a show in quite some time. 

SET LIST
Dancing the Manta Ray
Weird At My School
Bailey's Walk
Manta Ray
Debaser
Tame
Wave of Mutilation
I Bleed
Here Comes Your Man
Dead
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Mr. Grieves
Crackity Jones
La La Love You
(Writer's Note: I never knew the drummer sang on this one. After hearing this live, it's a new favorite which is silly since it's the Pixies and all the songs are great, but I really dug this one live.)
No. 13 Baby
There Goes My Gun
Hey
(Writer's Note: Apparently, this is the big track off the album. Everyone was singing along, and I got the impression it was because people generally love this song and not because the words were being shown on the screen behind the stage.)
Silver
Gouge Away

Encore
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
(Writer's Note: I swear I heard someone boo when they started playing this since it sounds so much like the other "Wave of Mutilation". I'm fairly certain that it was only one person, and they were either 12 or drunk, so let's give them a pass, just this once.)
Into the White

Encore 2
Where Is My Mind?
Gigantic
Caribou
(Writer's Note: I had wanted to hear "Ed is Dead", but I had no problem settling for this one.)
Nimrod's Son