Pixies stick

Pub date September 27, 2006
SectionFilm FeaturesSectionFilm Review

A smiling Kim Deal holds up a T-shirt with “Pixies Sellout” emblazoned across the back. “Where did you get the inspiration?” she asks guitarist Joey Santiago, who named the band’s comeback tour. “’Cause we sold out in minutes!” he offers sans irony. Santiago might not be in on the joke (somewhat inexplicably), but for the rest of us the subtext is clear. Sure, the Pixies are now well into middle age and showing it, but to claim these indie rock demigods are simply trying to cash in on past success is a little unfair. Since they were never really able to enjoy major-league (outside of the United Kingdom) success (which happened after the breakup) in the first place, they’re just now getting used to this whole rock-glory thing.
LoudQUIETloud, shot during the band’s 2004 world tour, frames their collective “holy shit, they love us!” state of shock perfectly while still managing to focus on the individual members’ personal struggles with art, family, and commerce. Before the tour’s start, lead singer-songwriter Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Black Francis) is plugging away at solo gigs and Nashville records; a newly sober Deal (the only Pixie left with any hair) hasn’t recorded with the Breeders in years and is holed up in Ohio; Santiago is scoring films and raising kids; and drummer David Lovering is pursuing “hobbies of magic and metal detecting” (seriously).
Still, amid all the drug tiffs, card tricks, and mostly energetic renditions of classic tunes like “Caribou” and “Hey,” we get precious little insight into the Pixies’ much-ballyhooed musical influence. Even the film’s title — a reference to the band’s signature seesawing song structure — is never explained. Actually, the title is a good characterization of the movie itself: despite the notorious rancor between members that ultimately led to the band’s demise, for the most part they come off as quiet, funny eccentrics in between the thunderous live footage. They’re so unrelentingly low-key, in fact, it’s hard not to wish one of them would explode, like a Pixies chorus, into something a little less tame. (Michelle Devereaux)