Second life success: The Pixies smashing expectations and Pumpkins
The Pixies were hardly acknowledged by mainstream radio and never even fully appreciated by the modern rock fringes during the band's original formation from 1986-1993. The band released four studio albums that barely registered a blip on the Billboard 200 charts, along with a few scattershot hits like the pop guitar-driven "Here Comes Your Man" and the manic "Debaser," that were cherished by a handful of surf punks and trench coat-wearing mods.
So why, then, has the 2004 reformation of lead singer Black Francis (aka Frank Black), guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and bassist Kim Deal as The Pixies been a honeymoon of sold-out concerts and critical accolades that seems to never end?
Better yet, how does one explain how The Pixies are playing the mid-size Verizon Wireless Theater on Monday while the Smashing Pumpkins — a band who sold zillions of albums and headlined Lollapalooza before also flaming-out and reforming — play the more intimate Warehouse Live the following night?
I ask these questions not only of the CultureMap-reading public, but of myself as well. I freely admit that I have binged on The Pixies Kool-Aid as much as anybody over the last six years and I can't get the monkey off my back.
My theory is that The Pixies are a latter-day versions of The Kinks or Velvet Underground: All are bands that weren't truly acknowledged as musical trailblazers until they were gone.
Except, in the case of The Pixies, we now have a chance to make the band's legacy right with history.
In the age of MTV, iTunes, MySpace, Facebook, Sirius radio, Twitter and Pandora it's nearly impossible for a band with this much sonic dexterity and vocal contrast to go unnoticed. The Pixies disbanded before the true multi-media and digital explosion, but somehow they slipped through the superstardom cracks.
The beautiful part about the group's reunion is that amazing power chords of "Gigantic" and electric vs. ethereal anthems like "Monkey Gone To Heaven" and "Where Is My Mind?" are being discovered by multiple generations of music fans simultaneously ... and rediscovered by the few who middle-aged ex-punks wise enough to take notice years ago.
Like wine and cheese, The Pixies keep getting better with age. If all breakups and reunions were this successful, everyone would be doing it.
The Pixies, 8 p.m. Monday at Verizon Wireless Theater