More than three decades into their career, there are still countless people who harbor judgment about Pixies based on their name – “They’re, like, soft indie rock, right?” they ask, clueless to the reality that the Boston band’s renowned raucousness heavily influenced the ‘90s grunge and alt movements.
With that in mind, the group pulled off what felt like a smart bait and switch during their Friday night sub-headlining set on the Piedmont stage: start with stuff that most people know – a hat trick of hits: “Gouge Away”, “Wave of Mutilation”, and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” – then bust out tons of tunes that might take the casual listener off guard with their punishingly loud, punk and alt rock intonations. Perhaps the strategy was unintentional, but more than a few peeps in the packed crowd looked shocked as the quartet raged through “U-Mass”, “Rock Music”, “Isla de Encanta”, and “Something Against You.” As some of the fest’s oldest performers, they may not have had the thrust of Iggy Pop incarnate Matt Shultz as he riled up the main stage crowd with Cage the Elephant across the park, but they resounded at least a frenetically as FIDLAR, who had helmed the same stage just before.
Black Francis’ inimitable screams were enough to keep people there at least through “Where Is My Mind?”, at which point half the audience turned tail to post up for LCD. Their loss: Given the five-minute distance between stages, there was no reason to miss the galloping grit of “Cactus”, the happy-go-lucky melody of “Here Comes Your Man”, and Joey Santiago’s rippin’ riffs on “Bone Machine”. Regardless of whether they planned it, good on the band for ultimately rewarding the faithful by – among an impressive 20 songs – including relatively rare David Lovering-sung, slightly silly ballad “La La Love You”, insanely rowdy B-side “Nimrod’s Son”, and noise-rock opus “Vamos” before finishing up.