Concert Review: Pixies’ Hard Hitting Punk Rocks the Bluestem


Lead singer and founding member Black Francis (right) croons alongside bassist Paz Lenchantin (left) during the band’s performance at the Bluestem Amphitheater in Moorhead, Minnesota.

The Pixies rocked the Bluestem Amphitheater in Moorhead, Minnesota, this past Thursday, Oct. 12, with an explosive set of songs spanning the band’s successful career.

It was a gorgeous fall evening when opening act Mitski brought her music to the stage before an audience of every age, from 16- to 65-year olds.

Playing a set consisting of equal parts “Bury Me At Makeout Creek” and her newest album, “Puberty 2,” Mitski and company introduced much of the audience to her unique blend of punk and outsider-indie with subject matter involving hopeless longing.

Living most of her life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Turkey before settling in New York, there was no doubt the weather was colder than she was used to. She wore a sweatshirt over her stage clothes until right before beginning and sipped hot liquids from a styrofoam cup.

Mitski acknowledged her appreciation for the unique venue, telling the crowd how nice it was to play under a big open sky.

Perhaps even more than with her music, Mitski seemed to win over the crowd with the comical juxtaposition of her heavy, desperate lyrics and her small quiet voice, thanking the audience between songs.

If a criticism could be made, it would be that the touring guitarist spent a majority of his time pacing back and forth with his back to the audience even as he played solos.

The atmosphere was cheerful between performances, as people chatted happily and milled about enjoying the pleasant fall evening.

After nonchalantly walking onto the stage, the Pixies went straight into their high energy setlist of 31 songs, spanning the entirety of the band’s catalog. Starting with “Havalina,” off of the hit album “Surfer Rosa.”

While the tour is in support of their newest album “Head Carrier,” which came out last year, the Pixies’ set introduced new songs few and far between, tightly packing them between sizable chunks of fan favorites. It would appear as though the band realized the concert had to be more about the songs fans missed hearing live than trying to cultivate new favorites for their fans. Despite this, much of the audience appeared to be familiar with “Head Carrier” material.

The entire setlist was churned out one right after the other, with momentarily dimmed lights the only thing separating one song from the next, with absolutely no stage banter with the audience. Some fans were a little disappointed in this, but as another pointed out, “They know we know who they are. Why do they have to say anything?” And the press release for the tour did foreshadow the lack of back and forth between the audience and band.

Crowd favorites such as “Where Is My Mind?,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Gouge Away” and “Monkey Gone To Heaven” were all there, with the band even managing to sneak in two covers in their jam-packed set: “Winterlong” by Neil Young and “Head On” by Jesus Mary Chain.

Throughout their concert, Pixies performed an impressive 31-song setlist that combined old favorites with songs off their latest album, ‘Head Carrier.’

The enthusiasm of the audience after the Pixies finished their last song, “Hey” off of “Doolittle,” prompted the launch of the encore set without the band leaving the stage. Popular track “Debaser” had everyone ecstatically singing along before bassist Paz Lenchantin soothed the audience’s energy as she cooed out the sweet tune “All I Think About Now,” a song ironically about the departure of longtime bassist Kim Deal and included on the latest album.

Pixies fans left the Bluestem Amphitheater with all their musical dreams fulfilled, feet sore from jumping and voices hoarse from singing along, eagerly awaiting the day when the band will grace the stage once again.

See the full setlist below:
Magdalena 318
Motorway to Rosewell
Gouge Away
Bel Esprit
Um Chagga Lagga
Broken Face
Crackity Jones
Isla de Encanta
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Classic Masher
No 13 Baby
Silver Snail
Nimrod’s Son
Ed is Dead
Mr. Grieves
Wave of Mutilation
Here Comes Your Man
La La Love You
Where is my Mind
Bone Machine
I’ve Been Tired
Head On
Something Against You
Rock Music
All I Think About Now

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