By Andrew Marciello
A cloud of fog slowly stretched from the center of the Hampton Beach Ballroom and the piercing twang of an electric guitar rattled the floor. Bright white light flashes illuminated the fog. “Into the White” erupted from the stage and the silhouette of Frank Black, lead singer of the Pixies, emerged through the fog. That was only the encore.
The cult favorite Pixies rocked New Hampshire Oct. 30 in their first show in the state since they formed in 1986. The Boston-based rock band has grown internationally successful, with five album releases including their 1989 release “Doolittle,” the feature album for this year’s “Lost Cities” tour.
The crowd was a mix of aged rockers seeing the Pixies for the 20th time and younger fans anticipating their first opportunity. The venue was about as full as a beachfront ballroom could be. The polished hardwood floors and old-school disco ball hanging from the ceiling were different than the usual rock show.
They opened with four B-side releases from “Doolittle,” followed by the entire album from start to finish and two encores. The first encore featured two more B-sides and the second played four more popular songs from other albums, including “Gigantic” and “Where is My Mind?”.
The riveting show featured a vibrant display of visual effects driven by the band’s signature sound and raw emotional content. Songs like “Here Comes Your Man” and “Wave of Mutilation” gave off a pop vibe lead to singing-along and dancing, whereas songs like “Tame” and “Crackity Jones” emitted an angry rock sensation. This fusion of styles worked to create a musically diverse and interesting show.
The performance itself was dynamic. The Pixies rarely, if ever, stopped to make comments and dedications between songs. A 20-foot-long screen behind the stage displayed graphics fitting each song. Prior to the band’s entry onto the stage, it showed sections of “Un Chien Andalou,” a silent Spanish surrealist film from 1929 which is mentioned in their song “Debaser.” Each musician had their own performance style and worked cohesively to create an active viewing experience. At one point, lead guitarist Joey Santiago took out his phone, set it to record, and then proceeded to slide it up and down the neck of his guitar.
Ticket prices were right around $60. For a band with international recognition and a longstanding local following, that’s not a bad price tag and the show was more than worth it.
For longtime Pixies fans, new Pixies fans, and anyone else who happened to end up at that show, it was a very entertaining and exhilarating rock-and-roll performance.