The Pixies for those who don’t know but I doubt anybody doesn’t are an alternative rock band that predated the boom of Grunge in 1992 with Nirvana’s Nevermind whose big hit “Smells Like A Teen Spirit” Kurt Cobain said was a rip-off of the Pixies. The sound of the Pixies incorporated punk rock, surf music, chicano music along with the simplicity of Buddy Holly’s songwriting. They are held in far higher esteem than they should be, plenty of other bands from the same era were better and more influential. David Bowie was also a big fan which always gives kudos to any group of course.
This documentary documents their first (of many) reunion tour in 2004 which was the first time they had played together in well over a decade. The lead singer Frank Black had marked out a moderately successful solo career while the bass player Kim Deal had become even more of an indie rock darling with her group The Breeders. Their final tour before the reunion was a massive stadium tour supporting U2 which just heightened the ego clashes between Deal and Black.
The Pixies were still well-respected but with the release of Fight Club in 1999 which prominently used their song “Where is my mind?” brought attention to them to a whole new generation. The decision to reunite was unabashedly a financial one. Black’s solo stuff sold well but never quite to the level to The Pixies. Deal had just came off being in rehab due to becoming a full-fledged junkie and the fact her sister and band mate Kelley also was a junkie didn’t help. The guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering did some session work in the time since the split including some for Black, Lovering had also became a magician in that time.
The documentary is very much in the vein of Don’t Look Back or Gimme Shelter but hardly in those films’ league. It uses a Cinéma vérité style which follows the band around for the tour. It paints a picture of a band who are full of conflicting personalities and the drama that does with it. Kim Deal requests no alcohol to be backstage and they comply. Lovering father passes away in the middle of the tour and starts drinking heavily and using Valium. Frank Black comes off as a bit of dick throughout and the filmmaker thinking it was a good idea to have many shots of him shirtless was very mistaken.
It’s an interesting document of The Pixies and interesting to watch the than minor conflicts unfold between the members which would ultimately lead to Kim Deal leaving the band in 2013. The live footage is solid but never spellbinding kind of like the band themselves. The disc includes about half an hour of deleted scene and a commentary track from the directors.