A night at home, streaming a Pixies documentary

Nearly five years after everyone else, my partner and I finally got a Wii. I’m not a gamer, though I will destroy your entire family at boxing (well, unless your family includes my pint-size neighbor). But if I can marinate in my privilege for a minute, using the Wii for Netflix Instant is pretty awesome. Granted, I’ve been streaming stuff on my laptop for some time, but projecting it onto the living room TV is so nice (I also don’t have to worry about my television overheating and shutting down). I haven’t had cable since 2005, so being able to watch Louie or Now and Then or Exit Through the Gift Shop or season two of Parks and Recreation (season three begins January 20!!!) whenever is beyond luxurious. At some point I’ll watch that Harry Nilsson documentary, though I hope locals forked over $2 to see it at the Drafthouse during this week’s Music Mondays screening. Immersion with this gadget kind of kept me from writing, actually. When you’re battling a wicked case of cedar fever and it’s dark by 5, why not cuddle up on the couch to an entire season of Man v. Food?

I’ve also been pruning my queue, which I always hold at capacity. Capturing the Friedmans took up space for some time and now it’s haunting my dreams. loudQUIETloud, Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin’s documentary about the Pixies, has clogged up my queue since late 2006. I was pretty “meh” about seeing it, but thought it’d be good to watch while I was playing my guitar.

The Pixies (from left: David Lovering, Kim Deal, Frank Black, Joey Santiago); image courtesy of nytimes.com

I’m kind of prejudiced against this band. I acknowledge their greatness and like many of their songs. I’ll stand by “Debaser” and “River Euphrates.” The first Pixies song I heard was “Isla de Encanta,” which I originally encountered during the closing credits of Married to the Mob, one of my mom’s favorite movies. Since I came of age in the 90s, songs like “Gigantic,” “Here Comes Your Man,” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” were modern rock retro cut staples. Most everyone knows Fight Club ends with ‘Where Is My Mind?” And I’ll always remember accompanying an old roommate to a disconcerting wardrobe fitting for a drag show at the clothing designer’s studio apartment, where she was blasting Pixies songs in tribute to a friend who just died of an overdose.

I probably take them for granted because bands like Nirvana made the band’s singular dynamic structure (signposted in the documentary’s title) so commonplace. Mainly I just get tired of Frank Black’s petulant genius routine and project contempt onto his rabid fan base, who I always imagine as sweaty white dudes who think they’re better than you because they read science fiction. Plus, Kurt was right. Bassist Kim Deal should have written more songs for the Pixies. Since Black tightened his grip on the band as they continued, she left and formed the Breeders with her twin sister Kelley, which I got to first and happen to like more. Talk about a band with pop hooks and dynamic tension.

I actually don’t have too much to say about this one, as it’s a pretty straightforward piece about the band reuniting in 2004, paving the tour route for dozens of other indie bands who cashed in on their prestige with reunions throughout the decade (though I think Pavement made it safe for nostalgia acts to make cameos on reality TV). Some noteworthy parts for me are how Deal commits to sobriety, drummer/magician/puka shell enthusiast David Lovering struggles to do so, Deal’s sister follows the band around with a camera, Black gets jealous that the twins are holed up in the bus writing songs for another Breeders’ record, and secret weapon lead guitarist Joey Santiago is too grown for any nonsense.

However, a few scenes make this documentary worth viewing for feminist music geeks. At one point, the band encounters a superfan bass player. She became enamored with the group after reading Louisa Luna’s Brave New Girl, a YA novel about a teenage girl who’s obsessed with the band. The fan gives her copy to Deal, who studies the excerpts about her band flagged with green highlighter. The documentary closes with this girl, whose band covers “Monkey Gone to Heaven” during the closing credits. They’re fleeting but effective moments that demonstrate the bond shared between musician and fan, and how a woman with an instrument and a girl inspired by her can be a mutually beneficial connection.

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