NPR logo Here Comes Your Band

Here Comes Your Band

My friend forwarded me a website that seems akin to the Larry Norman/Bum Kon post of last week. It's called For Those Who Tried To Rock. The blog aims to "capture data about every band to have been formed by teens with that perfect mixture of big dreams and questionable talent in suburban garages, high school music rooms, and college dorms across America." Overall, the site's aim is not unlike that of the early Nuggets and Pebbles compilations, but it's an exciting venture never the less. Check it out.

Below is an image of the band Only One from central New Jersey, circa 1995.

Only One

Portland's insistence on not letting go of winter has led me to more film watching than usual for this time of year. Last weekend I watched loudQUIETloud, a documentary about the Pixies as they embarked on their first reunion tour in 2004.

I saw the Pixies in 1990, sandwiched between Primus and Jane's Addiction at the Seattle Center Arena. Though the Pixies were whom I was most excited to see, the performance felt flat and slightly detached. It could have been the large venue, their slot on the bill, or just who the Pixies were back then, but the songs came and went without any of the teeth they bared on their albums.

What first struck me about Loud Quiet Loud was that it documented what felt less like a reunion and more like a reassembling. It was as if the Pixies had not broken up but broken down, that they were in need of something—an audience, a level of desperation, financial uncertainty, sheer will—to bring them back into working condition.

The Pixies, the early years. From L to R: Black Francis, Kim Deal, David Lovering, Joey Santiago.

pixies.jpg

Whereas most documentaries about bands go back to the beginning, positing the music within a context, a city, a scene, and telling the origin story, except for a few seconds of video right before the credits, Loud Quiet Loud begins and ends in the new millennium. The choice to focus solely on the present day creates an odd disconnect, erasing any remnant of the process of creating the music. When the Pixies show up for their first practice in well over a decade, it's like watching actors step into roles without any sense of how they came to be who they are.

Yet the Pixies' music speaks for itself. The songs are bigger than the band members, larger than their hang-ups, their history, and whatever bitterness they left behind or still might carry with them. And the faces in the audience during those first shows, ecstatic and glowing, like they are seeing a lost piece of the puzzle, a secret ingredient that courses through so much contemporary music—that ardor from the fans is what seems to meld the band together. Maybe that is what the Pixies were lacking the first time around—some means of reflecting back onto them how much their music matters.

So, aside from Nirvana's song structure ( I also hear the Pixies influence on the vocal stylings of Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock) where has the Pixies music taken us? Where do you hear it and see it? And who has borrowed from and paid homage to the best parts of the band? Or, as suggested by a reader, who influenced the Pixies?

The Pixies on their second try.

Pixies

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