After decades of lineup changes and comebacks, it seems only fitting that on Saturday night, the Pixies performed at a venue that has seen its own historic share of turmoil, The Great Saltair. The crowd was eclectic in both age and culture, and was ready to hear new material—from the Pixies’ recently released EP, EP2—and hopefully, an aural reminiscence by the godfathers of alternative. Luckily for all, it became apparent as the Pixies bounced from song to song, with almost no crowd interaction, that Black Francis and company were prepared to provide both for everyone.
Performing in front of appropriately minimal reflective metal sheets that occasionally mimicked a giant wall of speakers, the quartet weaved in and out of catalog classics and new tracks equally. Displaying stoic passion, the Pixies hearkened back to their genesis with plenty of cuts from their 1987 debut, Come on Pilgrim, including “Ed Is Dead,” “Vamos,” and “Nimrod’s Son,” which caused one of the few mosh pits of the night.
One of the biggest cheers of the night came when drummer David Lovering and his smooth Morrissey-like voice were literally spotlighted as he repeated and faded out the last line of the melodic and overwhelmingly loved “La La Love You”: “All I’m saying pretty baby /La la love you, don’t mean maybe,” as the rest of the band watched from the collective darkness with a humble reverence.
Since the tour was to support EP2, a few refrains of the new material were on full display in the form of “Greens & Blues” and “Snakes.” The fans casually and politely bobbed to the new dreamy melodies but were collectively not well versed in or excited about the modern selections with the exception of an exuberant pair of elementary schoolers, obvious second-generation fans, who were dancing hand in hand and singing every line.
While the Pixies seemed to enjoy getting out and displaying their new work, it seemed like the mostly Generation X audience wanted to hear more of what they grew up on than what was just released in January. This became evident when the Pixies brought out the crowd favorite “Where Is My Mind?” as the second song in their encore. As the initial chords rang out, everyone’s camera went up to grab a picture or record video of the seminal track. The second the song ended, about half of the audience ran for the exit while the band was just getting into their next song.
“Vamos” capped the encore with a five-minute avant-garde-esque guitar solo by lead guitarist Joey Santiago, who used his input plug as a pseudo-theremin over the strings of his gold-top Les Paul to produce gain-saturated note after note.
Despite how some of the crowd received the Pixies as a live jukebox of hits, it was nice to watch a group of aging rock stars who not only still play together but also continue to make new music. Hopefully, this isn’t the last time that these legends roll through the “Palace of the Brine” in Magna.
Photos by Meredith Newsome