The first post of DVRFF – NOTE: This was written a while ago.
To kick things off and try and get the capacity back above 9%, tonight I watched loudQUIETloud: a film about the Pixies. If you’re already a fan of this band’s work then you won’t need me to tell you how much they changed the landscape of music in the early 90s…or some such shit. I don’t really listen to them these days but my formative years were highly Pixies-packed; they’re very probably one of the reasons I picked up a guitar myself, and my last band even attempted one of their songs (and no, it wasn’t ‘Where is My Mind?’) at gigs.
The Pixies split up in early 1993, when lead singer Black Francis announced to listeners on BBC Radio that he had dissolved the band, even before telling the other members. It’s explained by Francis (or Charles, to use his real name) in the film that “you stick any four people in a room for five years, and…y’know what I mean?” (Which just made me think of that outtake on the first album, ‘You Fuckin’ Die!’) The band members went on to contrasting fortunes and successes; while Charles changed his name to Frank Black and released a string of critically well-received solo albums, bass player Kim Deal became a darling of the media and MTV superstar with her new band, The Breeders. Lead guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering, meanwhile, struggled as respective jobbing musician and magician, as you do.
The reunion 12 years later got everyone very excited, myself included – though the band hasn’t released much in the way of actual new material, they sold out a hell of a lot of venues around the world. This film documents their time spent together from initial rehearsals to European and North American tours in 2004. It’s a very strange and surreal sight at first – the publicity-shy music gods of Generation X versus the sight of their older, balder, fatter selves in this documentary. As good documentaries do, the initial problems presented and questions asked at the beginning (both metaphorically in the unexpected paths they’ve each taken since the split, and literally in trying to nail a rehearsal of ‘Hey’) are resolved and answered at the end (laughs are had, songs are rocked) – but it’s still very jarring to read a caption like “Kim has requested that there be no alcohol backstage during the tour” and realise that wow, she must have gone through some stuff since we last heard her on Trompe Le Monde. It’s all awkward laughter and card tricks from the boys, while Kim holes up with her twin sister Kelley and comments on how everything’s so different this time around. This is the main thing I took away from the film – how alien it must all feel, after so long away from such a big thing, to come back into the room and try to sort it all out in your mind. It had to have been quite an experience for the members of the Pixies, and this film does a really great job of both clarifying and blurring the line between then and now (now being 2004).
I’d definitely recommend this film even if you’re not a Pixies fan; the live performances of favourites like ‘Vamos’ and ‘Something Against You’ are well-shot and recorded, while the four band members make some pretty interesting film characters in their own right.