Music News & Reviews

Pixies’ rare club show attracts who’s who of Sacramento cool kids

The Pixies played to a sold-out Ace of Spades in Sacramento on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, as part of a small club tour.
The Pixies played to a sold-out Ace of Spades in Sacramento on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, as part of a small club tour. Matthew Hargrove

Sometimes it pays to live in a smaller market kind of music town. Because every so often a popular band will choose a more medium-sized city, away from the major media and industry movers and shakers, to road test some new material. No Doubt, already an arena-worthy band in 1999, took to Sacramento’s Crest Theatre to warm up its touring chops with songs from its then-upcoming “Return of Saturn” album. And in 2001, Weezer dropped into The Crest to preview songs from its “Green Album,” which later sold more than 1 million copies, before hitting the road on a major tour.

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It was a similar kind of excitement on Wednesday night at Ace of Spades, where alt-rock legends the Pixies played one of four California club shows that lead to a European tour of large theaters and arenas. Along with Sacramento, small venues in Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Ventura were picked as warm-up spots for the European jaunt. Tickets for the Pixies in Sacramento sold out quickly for the 975-capacity venue, which hosted the band’s first local show since 2004.

The gig attracted a who’s-who of Sacramento’s cultural movers and shakers, especially those who fit the Gen X demographic. Abe Cunningham and Frank Delgado of Deftones sipped tall cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon by Ace of Spades’ bar. Josh and Gina Nelson of the Selland Family of restaurants had babysitters secured for the show. Rick Mahan of The Waterboy sported a vintage Pixies “Doolittle” t-shirt.

Also spotted at the show: Kimio Bazett (Kru, Hook & Ladder), Matt Nurge (Red Rabbit), Garrett Van Vleck (Shady Lady), Dal Basi (Phono Select) and local restaurant design maven Whitney Johnson.

The muggy room erupted in cheers as the first bass notes kicked into “Debaser,” the opening track from 1989’s “Doolittle,” which launched a 29-song set. The 100-minute show sped forth like a megamix of classic Pixies tunes (“Wave of Mutilation,” “Where is my Mind?”) and tracks from the band’s new album, “Head Carrier” (“Um Chagga Lagga,” “Classic Masher”). Frontman Black Francis spent almost zero time bantering between songs, and the group as a whole kept its breaks to a minimum, making for a show that rarely ceased in its momentum.

Some Pixies purists say the band isn’t fully legit without Kim Deal, the founding bassist and voice of such signature Pixies songs as “Gigantic.” Though Deal will always be missed in the context of the Pixies, Paz Lenchantin, who joined the Pixies fold in 2014, has turned out to be an apt replacement. She perfectly replicated Deal’s sunny, slightly deadpan backing vocals on “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Bone Machine.” Lenchantin, known for her previous stints with A Perfect Circle and Zwan, also lends a little more of a thump on bass compared to Deal. “Ed is Dead” seemed to groove especially hard, with Lechantin anchoring the low end.

As a warm-up, the show helped the band work out some technical kinks. Guitarist Joey Santiago grappled with some equipment issues before playing an encore of “Ana,” which led to the longest break between songs for the whole show. But overall, the Pixies sounded especially energized and if Ace of Spades was any indication, Europe is in store for some fun shows.

Here’s what the Pixies played at Ace of Spades:

1. Debaser

2. Isla de Encanta

3. Talent

4. Monkey Gone to Heaven

5. Magdalena 318

6. River Euphrates

7. Bel Esprit

8. Classic Masher

9. Um Chagga Lagga

10. Crackity Jones

11. Subbacultcha

12. Tenement Song

13. I’ve Been Tired

14. Gouge Away

15. Might as Well be Gone

16. Mr. Grieves

17. Ed is Dead

18. Hey

19. Where is my Mind?

20. Here Comes Your Man

21. Vamos

22. Plaster of Paris

23. Bone Machine

24. Wave of Mutilation

25. All I Think About Now

26. Velouria

27. Planet of Sound

28. Ana

29. Cactus

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