By Melissa Lindley
Despite the chilly weather and reports of impending snow, the Jersey Shore heate up at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall on Oct. 28.
People of all ages packed the boardwalk, restaurants and bars, donning hoodies and even the occasional costume for the upcoming Halloween festivities. The occasion? An intimate evening of obscure deep cuts and fan favorites performed by the Pixies.
The Pixies began the second leg of their tour at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair the previous night for the 20th anniversary of their critically acclaimed album “Doolittle.”
Surfer Blood, the Pixies’ opening band, came onstage at 8 p.m., having released their newest EP, “Tarot Classics,” just three days before. The quartet, originally from West Palm Beach, Fla., came armed with newly released material, including the appropriately themed “Blair Witch.”
The majority of Surfer Blood’s 12-song set composed of tracks from their 2010 album, “Astro Coast.” They concluded their performance with their signature hit “Swim.”
As the Pixies took the stage at 9:15 p.m., the projectors hanging began to play film clips from old thrillers and art films, resulting in a smooth collaboration between Halloween weekend and the surrealistic themes that are woven throughout the album about to be performed.
The set opened with “Dancing the Manta Ray” and “Weird at My School,” accompanied by other B-side songs that had never been played to a live audience before that concert.
Without missing a beat, the band launched into “Debaser,” a fan favorite and the opening track to “Doolittle.”
An eruption of voices from faithful fans was heard throughout the venue, with cued singing and fist pumps for every verse and chorus. The band continued, barreling through well-known tracks such as “Wave Of Mutilation” and “Here Comes Your Man.”
Even with each band member being in either his or her late ’40s or early ’50s, the band still performed with the same energy and vigor they had when they formed in 1986.
“Somebody’s gonna have to get up and flip the record,” bassist Kim Deal joked, alluding to the older fans who remember listening to the Pixies with headphones and turntables.
The band immediately began what would have been the second side on vinyl, with a tight version of “Monkey Gone To Heaven.” Fans responded positively to songs like “Hey,” which featured scrawled out pictures and lyrics on the screen.
Frontman Black Francis then gave the drummer, David Lovering, a portion of the spotlight by letting him perform the lead vocals on “La La Love You.”
After concluding the set list, the stage turned black as the band left before their first encore. They returned several minutes later, rewarding the hungry audience with a stripped down rendition of “Wave of Mutilation,” commonly referred to by fans as the “U.K. Surf version.” They finished the first encore with “Into the White,” and even returned for a second encore, ending with “Where Is My Mind.”
Despite the band’s long period of inactivity, they still managed to sound just as they did during the height of their success in the ’80s. No key changes to fit aging vocal chords or struggles to reach high notes appeared to be necessary during the concert, adding to the band’s authenticity. The fans had no complaints, singing along word for word and showing no shame in dancing or head banging.
While most groups show their age with a rehash of set lists and scripted conversation with the audience, the Pixies are unique. Treating loyal fans with deleted songs and a full album is unusual, and a nice gift to those who continued to support the band even after they disbanded.
Although there have been no plans for the Pixies to release new material at this time, the performance showed that they are still seen as alternative rock icons with endless amounts of potential as musicians in the future.