White Oak Music Hall
April 30, 2017
Few moments in life truly reach perfection. Some may consider them to be weddings or graduations or other milestones, but such moments also occur unexpectedly, when ordinary occasions become beautiful simply by realizing the world and all its details have struck a harmonious chord.
Sunday night’s performance by the Pixies at White Oak Music Hall was one of those moments. Sitting stage right on the cool grass of the lawn under a sunset cast gorgeously across the backdrop of the Houston skyline in humidity-free, mosquito-free weather may have been as close to perfect as the Bayou City gets. Of course, good music helps, too.
The Pixies played a powerful, rousing set. The kind of band that needs to be seen live to truly appreciate their depth of talent, the quartet can be heavy as metal and introspective as a poet with acoustic guitar. Their brilliance lies in the way they join these two contrasting styles without interruption.
Not a band to follow a prescribed set list, in Houston the Pixies covered music from every album, scattering their better-known songs throughout. Several tracks came from their latest release, 2016's Head Carrier, including “Classic Masher,” “Bel Esprit,” “All The Saints,” and “Talent,” among others.
While these tracks may still not be widely known, they stack up evenly against some of the band's greatest work. Indeed, when The Pixies played their newer material, the energy was evenly distributed and seamlessly delivered. There was never any sense their more recent songs didn’t belong or were being pushed on the audience just because they were new.
In that regard, Head Carrier is a true extension of the Pixies' catalog. Masterful performers, The Pixies were able to execute a lengthy 27-song set and still engage a crowd shouting for more. Balanced and effective, all members seemed to coordinate perfectly, even the newest one, bassist Paz Lenchantin.
Some fans still discussed now-former beloved bassist Kim Deal’s departure, a missing piece understandably felt most intensely by the the band's oldest fans. Yet, the performance didn’t suffer whatsoever. If anything, witnessing the Pixies without Deal still perform at an incredible level speaks to the spirit that still remains. The Pixies aren’t slowing down, they’re speeding up.
The encore Lenchantin performed was a powerful message that her place in The Pixies is non-negotiable. And the fact that the Pixies ended the show with her at center stage not only is symbolic, but cements her rightful place in the band.
However, the Pixies weren’t the only stars of the evening. Deserving of its own applause, White Oak Music Hall is the venue that’s been long missing from our music scene. All the major details that make a concert worthwhile — superior sound quality, unobstructed views, proximity to the stage — were clearly at the forefront of design of the venue.
The minor details, like bathroom accessibility, safety, or food truck and vendor access, were all taken care of as well. And thank goodness Houston has a venue that makes a concert an enjoyable experience not only for the audience, but for the performers as well.
As I’ve frustratingly noted, Houston is passed over for national tours far too often. White Oak Music Hall is the kind of solidly professional venue that not only Houston deserves but that artists would request to play. And, naturally, one that audience members would attend again and again. Bravo.
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Audience: Cross section of musicians, fans, couples and groups of friends.
Overheard In the Crowd: “Between all the pot smoke and the waffle truck smells, I feel like there’s a conspiracy here to get me to eat.” (I totally agree, dude; a delicious conspiracy full of fried chicken and waffle goodness.)
All The Saints
Here Comes Your Man
All I Think About Now
Wave of Mutilation
Monkey Gone To Heaven
Where Is My Mind?
No. 13 Baby
Into the White (Encore)