We called it college rock for a reason. The Pixies sounded like they'd cobbled their lyrics together after batting around in-jokes in a dorm lounge at 4 AM and dressed like they'd grabbed yesterday's clothes off the floor after waking up late for Intro to Psych. Hindsight's 20/20, of course, but it sure seems this Boston band was destined to be "influential" from the start, and to be sure, the Pixies' jarring dynamics and tuneful noisiness connected with pop audiences in a big way once they were hijacked by a zillion alternabands; even their junk-culture fixation now looks like a prophetic glimpse of the jury-rigged thrift-store aesthetic of 90s indie rock. The band's surreal full-length debut, Surfer Rosa (1988), has a "four brains, one album" gestalt that still suggests as-yet-unexploited possibilities for rock groupthink, and Bossanova (1990) remains an object lesson in how to beef up your sound via an infusion of corporate cash without risking a commercial breakthrough. Sadly, the set lists on this nostalgia tour have so far overwhelmingly favored the 80s over the 90s, validating the authorized reading of the band's career as one of early brilliance dimmed by failed stabs at professionalism. At least the nostalgia's justified--now that hip rockers are shunning the Pixies' make-do, arty cleverness in favor of self-absorbed emoting or self-conscious flash, fans seem to be pining less for their own lost youths than for a lost sensibility. Reports from the road say the Pixies have the onstage rapport of a row of gas pumps these days, but they're still putting on a great show. The Datsuns open tonight's show, the first of this five-night stand; tickets are only available for Wednesday. Saturday 11/13, 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence, 312-666-6667 or 312-559-1212. See also Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. All ages.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Crump.