I don’t know about you, but I was at the UNIVERSAL CENTER OF COOLNESS last night. No, this is not a new corporate-sponsored amphitheater. The Apex of Awesomeness last night – and I will not listen to any argument here, not that I ever have to because this site is not sound-interactive – was at Seattle’s Paramount Theater, and the purveyors of perfection were the pugilistic Pixies. OK, I will stop with the annoying alliteration now. Oops, I did it right there again. Anyway, the Pixies, one of the most influential and beloved alternative rock bands of the late 80s/early 90s, were playing and I was attended along with lots of other very very happy fans. I expected this show to be good, as I would not purchase tickets knowingly to a bad show, but my modest expectations were just blown to pieces. This was an amazing show.

I would call myself a casual fan of the Pixies, an enthusiastic appreciator who always liked their work yet always felt just a little distanced from it at the same time. I am not exactly sure why that is. Maybe it was that at the time of their first releases, there were an awful lot of other great bands competing for my ear. Maybe it was that I had a lot of new things on my plate then – moved away from family, got married, in college full-time, popped out first baby – and the Pixies’ music takes some effort to listen to. It is complex -- abrasive yet melodic, with lyrics that can be disturbing and darkly-rich with surrealistic imagery. It’s not exactly something to pop on while breastfeeding and going over a biology textbook, although I like the idea of that immensely.

I almost saw them open for U2 on the Zoo TV tour the day after my son’s 1st birthday, but as it was an extremely-last minute thing (I actually had to leave a night class in Animal Psych to zoom to Mile High Stadium with my just-released ticket) I missed the Pixies’ set. I thought it was a shame and a waste when I heard that they broke up the next year, yet another excellent band a casualty of power-struggles, substance abuse, and bitterness. Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal, and David Lovering moved on to other musical projects, and the Pixies were done.

Eleven years passed and apparently so did enough of the issues so that the Pixies reformed in 2004, thrilling fans worldwide who thought the day would never come. (In those 11 years I finished college and had two more kids, probably not thrilling anyone but my mother.) They played quite a few very interesting and varied gigs, but after a few more years the band is feeling a bit restless and in need of new songs and an expanded artistic vision. Signs look good for the band to return to the studio next year.

Which brings us to last night. Seemingly in contradiction to not wanting to rely on old catalog for performance, the Pixies in 2009 decided to undertake a small tour in honor of the 20th anniversary of the release of “Doolittle,” likely their best-known album. When I heard about this, I had somewhat-mixed feelings. Those feelings were OOH, that’s my favorite Pixies album and that sounds COOL, and, aww, this just a way to grab some pennies out of the pockets of the Gen X crowd that is now old enough to feel nostalgic and have actual jobs that pay money. I decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the Pixies, and bought my tickets the second I got the pre-sale code.

Settling into my balcony seat last night (once again late, missing Rain Machine’s set because NO ONE could BOTHER to take my ORDER at Bambuza, a Paramount-proximal restaurant I now demand you avoid), the show began with scenes from two often-banned 1920’s surrealist silent films, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s Un Chien Andalou and the compilation Forbidden Images. Yes, I did look away with the slicing-an-eyeball-in-half clip; I’m a wimp. The Pixies came onstage to roars of delight from the crowd, and tore right in to some B-sides that grabbed you by the throat, in the nicest possible way, went into Doolittle song by song, and didn’t drop the ball once. Holy shit! This is what I was thinking the whole night – this band is HOT HOT HOT and I could not imagine a time or place where they ever could have sounded better. The sound was crisp and defined and crunchy and heavy, the performances just superb, Black Francis’ vocals in particular. The Pixies are a perfect example that rock music doesn’t have an age. Perhaps their years of experience, desire to play and play well, love of the material, joyous feedback from the audience, and that “it” spark that makes the best things happen combined last night, because it sure felt like peak to me. Here’s the three vids I shot:

The show was made just that much better with incredible films and stills on a large background screen, and gorgeous and evocative lighting design, perfectly complimentary to Doolittle’s lyrical themes and the powerful sound. I will show you, courtesy the leeetle camera:

There really was only one Ruiner at the show, and he really wasn’t all that bad. In front of me was a dad and his teenage kids, and Dad was one of those air-drumming, air-guitaring, slappin’ thighs, Benatar-shoulder-shaking dancing dudes. It was amusing and not offensive. What was offensive is that he was wearing an 80s cognac-colored leather blazer that reeked of old sweat which kept wafting back to me in stinky waves. Rock on, Stink Dad. Another gray-haired man in a black leather trench was so excited to hear “Here Comes Your Man” that he stood up and danced, bouncing up and down and up and down, holding his arms close to his chest like a little bunny with folded paws. That was wonderful. I love you, Bunny Man.

The Pixies ended the show with a very cute backdrop of themselves bowing and smiling, and graced the crowd with two generous encores before departing for the night. I was very excited to learn that all of the shows on this tour are being recorded and will be quickly available for purchase via limited-issue CDs or digital downloads, along with other cool items (go here). I gotta say, if there’s any chance for you to see this tour, GO. It was some evening – beautiful to watch, thunderous and punky and RAWWWWK to hear, and was a definite line in the sand drawn by a bunch of musicians who are now pushing or past 50: Beat THAT, kids. Just you try.