The Pixies performed Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Midland in Kansas City. SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star
The Pixies performed Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Midland in Kansas City. SUSAN PFANNMULLER Special to the Star

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Timothy Finn blogs about Kansas City's music scene

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Pixies unload a wave of indie-rock brilliance on a sold-out Midland crowd

By Timothy Finn

October 16, 2017 07:28 AM

Like few other bands, the Pixies have rejuvenated and reconstituted their stature among a generation of fans who, after the band’s decadelong hiatus that started in 1993, seem to more deeply appreciate its music and attitude.

Sunday night, the Pixies sold out the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland — a crowd of close to 3,000 — and for nearly two hours, they unloaded nearly three dozen songs, music that tapped into the band’s roots: indie rock that is equal parts metal, punk, pop, post-punk and prototype grunge — at its best the perfect mix of chaos, groove, melody and lyrical deviance.

The Pixies are led by Black Francis, a frontman who wastes little time dispensing small talk or charm but who nonetheless rules a stage. He was backed by fellow founding members Joey Santiago (guitar) and Dave Lovering (drums) and bassist Paz Lenchantin, an apt replacement for the indispensable Kim Deal, who quit the band in 2013. They are not the same without her, yet they soldier on.

They visited the old and the new. They opened with “Wave of Mutilation,” a track from the revered “Doolittle” album, released in 1989, and the title track from a greatest hits compilation released in 2004.

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The set list was filled with those “hits,” songs like “Caribou,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Nimrod’s Song,” “Vamos,” “Debaser” and the indefatigable “Here Comes Your Man,” a raw and raucous pop tune that weds the sound of Tom Petty with Nirvana.

They were loud (but not too loud) and feral and most impressive during slightly lesser-known tracks like “Snakes,” “Motorway to Roswell, “Where Is My Mind,” the cover of Neil Young’s “Winterland” and a track from their 2016 album “Head Carrier,” the volcanic “Um Chagga Lagga,” which rocked and roared like a Motorhead anthem.

The presentation included a light show that added some primitive visual distractions, but for the most part, this show was all about a band indulging in its primal attractions: songs of varying lengths — some shorter than two minutes — that expressed the full-throttle energy and sensibility that has made the Pixies indie heroes from the start.

They closed with “Bone Machine,” a gust of chaos, lyrically and musically, from the “Surfa Rosa” album, that sounds as vital and relevant as it did when it was released nearly 30 years ago.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain