Arts, Off Campus

The Pixies Proves Their Abiding Success with Exciting Return to Boston

Not far from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where lead singer Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago went to college, the Pixies put on an explosive performance of tracks that matched the same energy of their original releases decades ago. 

Coming off the 2022 release of album Doggerel and back in their hometown, the Pixies returned to a rowdy Boston crowd waiting to be awed by the alternative rock band’s timeless hits and unfaltering stage presence. 

MGM Music Hall hosted the second leg start of the Pixies’ 2023 U.S. tour on June 8, featuring openers Bully and Franz Ferdinand. 

Fans of all ages left the merchandise lines wearing the band’s eclectic designs with drinks in hand as they quickly filled up the floor and balconies of MGM Music Hall while Bully’s set was underway. The indie rock singer moved across the stage while she sang tracks from her new album Lucky For You, including “Change Your Mind,” and “Lose You (feat. Soccer Mommy).” Her vocals cut through the vibrating reverb of the bass and guitar. 

Bully’s abridged set was followed by loud cheers as Franz Ferdinand entered the stage while some dedicated fans snaked through the floor for a closer view of the Scottish band. The band opened its electric set with “Jacqueline,” and the track built up to a climactic end, including a wailing guitar solo. 

Franz Ferdinand stood rather still, letting its music speak for itself, enticing fans to jump along to fan-favorites “No You Girls,” and “Do You Want To.” Despite it being five years since releasing its last studio album, Franz Ferdinand still held the audience’s captivation with its biggest hits, culminating in renditions of “Take Me Out” and an elongated “This Fire” to close out the set. 

The rock band left the audience shouting along the lyrics to “This Fire,” as lead singer and guitarist Alex Kapranos thanked his fans and exited the stage ahead of the Pixies’ appearance. 

By the time the lights dimmed for the Pixies’ entrance, MGM’s hall was filled to the brim with fans cheering and moving to the stage barricade.

Stage lights shined their red glow on the band as it began its cover of The Surftones’ “Cecilia Ann.” The Pixies’ set covered a variety of deep cuts, selections from Doggerel, and well-known songs. Different sections of the audience cheered as each one began, highlighting the Pixies’ diverse draw. 

The energy began to pick up after “Gouge Away,” with the crowd reciting the lyrics of the harsh track about the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. Paz Lenchantin’s repeating bass line ostinato and Francis’ vocals echoed across the venue.

Fan-favorite “Hey” followed, and fans hummed along with Francis while the jangly guitar riff transitioned to long high notes in its solo. 

“Hey, been trying to meet you / Hey, must be a devil between us / Or wh—s in my head / Wh—s at the door,” Francis sang. 

The performance included many Doggerel tracks, including “There’s A Moon On,” “Get Simulated,” and “Haunted House.” The album blended the distinct absurdist style of the band’s lyrics with dreamlike experimental sounds. 

Once “Debaser” began, the concert took an unruly turn. A large mosh pit quickly materialized, swallowing up fans as more pushed through to join. Reactions were mixed, though many fans both old and young participated, colliding into one another with excitement. Audience members from the balcony took videos and watched as the mosh pit grew in size. 

The Pixies did little crowd interaction, but its playing did not tire out as it progressed through the hour-and-a-half-long set. Francis switched at times to an acoustic guitar when the track called for it, playing flawlessly with Lenchantin’s backup vocals. The set assembled songs from the majority of the band’s albums, spanning across its history together. 

“Tame,” “Ana,” and “Mr. Grieves,” seamlessly followed one another, emphasizing the band’s careful consideration of the order of the songs.

Twenty-four songs in, the tension in the room grew in anticipation of the performance’s climax. The mosh pit had persisted throughout, even during slow songs, though it had tired itself out. The slump was cured by “Here Comes Your Man,” featured in the film (500) Days of Summer, which contains an instrumental introduction that was immediately recognized by the crowd. 

“Outside there’s a box car waiting / Outside the family stew / Out by the fire breathing / Outside we wait till face turns blue,” Francis sang. 

The famous guitar riff played by Santiago and supported by Lenchantin ignited fans to sing and dance along. 

Another rendition of “Wave Of Mutilation” was played after—this time the Pixies’ UK Surf version. The track is a slower and airy version that prepared the audience for the Pixies’ most famous hit, “Where Is My Mind?” 

Expectedly, the crowd’s energy soared during the track, with phones recording as the band played the song. Francis’ vocals were completely overshadowed by the fans’ recitation of the lyrics. 

Neil Young’s “Winterlong” concluded the show, and fans shouted for an encore that ever came. The stage lights glared onto the audience, and members headed for the trafficked exits. 

June 28, 2023