So happy I’m slightly depressed by it


Listening to Surfer Rosa followed by Doolittle (The Pixes)

If I were a different person, or maybe the same person but a version who had evolved into a disciplined state of being, I’d be unveiling my Best of 2009 in this post. HOWEVER, the type of evolution required to transform me into a life form that obeys her own rules has eluded me, or (really) I have eluded it (I may not be disciplined but I’m wily). (And fond of parenthetical statements).

I must therefore bring you back in time to The Second Best Night of My Life (speaking of live music nights only), the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Actually, no. I need to bring you back farther, to the afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History – North American Mammal Wing – when my friend M_ turned to me as casual as you please and blew my head off the top of my neck. “Oh, by the way, did I mention I have an extra ticket to see the Pixies do Doolittle?”

This is a show that had sold out within about 45 seconds of going on sale. Needless to say, I hadn’t been among the fortunate with either industry connections or fate on my side – until that glorious moment at the AMNH, in front of a stuffed antelope in its fake natural environment, when my brain comprehended what my ears had heard. I am a grown woman who jumped up and down, clapped my hands and squealed, for maybe a minute straight. Passing toddlers were embarrassed by the outburst. “Such lack of self-control,” they muttered through their pacifiers.

But I had the last laugh, little jerks. Because on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, after sitting in Lincoln Tunnel traffic for 2.5 hours (no, I don’t know why we didn’t think to take the train) the opening chords of Doolittle were wrapping themselves around me. I know every word of every song on that album, as did the majority of the people packed into Hammerstein Ballroom, and we all sang at the top of our collective voice, from Debaser all the way to Gouge Away.

It was pure bliss; the closest thing to alt rock nirvana that we’ll ever get (since we can’t see Nirvana’s Nevermind reunion tour… though, honestly, if given the choice, I’d choose Doolittle. The Pixes were my gateway band long before Nirvana came on the scene).

Frank’s voice was still as rough and scream-y as it was the first time I saw them, which happened to be on their first Doolittle tour in 1989. Kim’s between-song banter was funny and self-deprecating. The band was tight. Highlights for me were Wave of Mutilation and Hey, and watching Frank try to eat the band (ok, that didn’t happen, but damn has he put on some weight).

I listened to most of the show while watching the back of Extremely Tall Guy With An Enormous Head, who is always standing in front of me at shows. I don’t know how he knows what show I’ll be at, or where I’ll be standing, but find me he does. Personally, I feel that anyone taller than 6’ and/or with a head circumference larger than 25” needs to stand in a special “tall person pit” that should be mandatory for all concert venues.

About halfway through the show L_ maneuvered us into a spectacular spot behind a short guy with the smallest head I’d ever seen. I was ecstatic. Until his Very Tall Friend Wearing The Gayest Biggest Hat Ever came to join him and stood DIRECTLY in front of me. Fucker.

In spite of the obstructed sight lines I didn’t want it to end, and started getting a little depressed at about the There Goes My Gun point. I have this problem – I start grieving over the end of things when they’re only about 2/3 of the way done, thereby ruining the last third of whatever it is I’m enjoying. A great massage, a gripping movie, a perfect piece of pie, a passionate tryst – you name it, I’ve ruined for myself the last third of it.

Anyway, I started willing them to launch into Surfer Rosa when they were done with Doolittle. In the scenario I was feverishly manifesting, the last chords of Gouge Away are fading when Kim Deal says, “That was so much fun we’re gonna do Surfer Rosa for you.” So imagine my extreme delight when during one of their encores I hear the very familiar and much loved “Ooooooo ooo” of Where Is My Mind? And then Gigantic?!!! I was beside myself.

Night ended at Veselka, with pierogies and blintzes. Perfect night. Eternal gratitude to M_ and A_. Big, big love, you two.


  1. wow that sounds like the perfect night. "btw…" that awesome.

    Pixies surfer rosa was a gateway album for me but they were never one of the bands that got me. That's not quite right. They are a top ten band for me but not a top five. My favorite album was "trompe le monde" which I can still remember buying in Alexandria. And the first Frank Black album would have been album of the year if there was a "best of" in 1993.

    Having said that, still jealous big time. Had heard mixed things about performance (which had scared me off). Sounds like a great night and now regret not making more of an effort.

    As far as Tall Guy, the problem might be your height. I have a similar problem with my weight – it's not that I weigh too much, I'm just too short. Solution: grab your kids plastic step thing and take it with you. As long as you don't end up behind the Nets (knicks not a problem), step stool thing wins.

  2. Surfer Rosa is actually my fave Pixies album, but I heard it after I heard Doolittle. I can still remember hearing it for the first time and thinking 'holy shit, there's an album better than Doolittle?!?!' I was hooked for life.

    Thanks for that link to Sound Opinions – that was really interesting.

    The stool would have to be compact though. Remember those plastic "stilts" that were basically heavy-duty upside down plastic cups with rubber band handles? Was thinking about finding a pair of those for myself. That would be rad.


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