John Cusack: I don't know. Did you go to your high school reunion?
Joan Cusack: Yes, I did. It was just as if everyone had swelled.
Quoting Grosse Point Blank is one way to approach this; astronomy is another. The universe continues to blow apart at an ever-accelerating rate -- NASA tells us that a galaxy moves 160,000 mph faster for every 3.3 light-years it moves away from Earth. If you consider this expansion in a bodily sense, however, the Pixies -- Frank Black and Kim Deal, at least -- are far ahead of schedule.
It is just as if they had swelled.
This, alas, was an important issue that we needed to approach delicately. Having done so, we will now Move On.
The Pixies did not embarrass anyone Thursday night at their long-anticipated UC Davis reunion soiree -- and most importantly, they did not embarrass themselves. Sure, Kim flubbed the intro to "Wave of Mutilation" almost right outta the gate, but Frank, ever the benevolent dictator, merely whistled the song dead, giggled, rolled his eyes, gently reminded her when to come in, and started over.
Disaster averted. Move On.
Central to the appeal of a reunion is the Will They Crash and Burn Majestically? factor, and the Pixies show -- held in a campus auditorium that technically sold out but could've easily held twice as many people, not that anyone with a ticket was complaining -- did wobble much of the time, but it wobbled pleasantly. Jovially, even. Frank can still scream sonorously, and Kim still radiates seismic waves of cool, even while staring intently at her bass the entire performance and visibly exhaling after each song: Whew. Didn't boff that one.
Every tune from Surfer Rosa and Dolittle worth mentioning got the nod. No flash, no extended jams, no updated lyrical themes. Just a bombastically deified band puttin' out the feelers in a deliberately obscure location, firing up the mower after countless summers of neglect, hoping that it wouldn't backfire.
For decades now, indie-rocker types have sneered at the constant spate of classic rock money-grubbing reunion tours, but that spite is comin' home to roost as beloved ghosts of hipsters past consider getting' the ol' band back together themselves. The Pixies are the most prominent example from the college/alternative rock milieu yet, but they obviously won't be the last.
So who else? What other glorious reunions await us at bizarre Bay Area locations? The mind reels. But the universe continues to expand nonetheless. And so, too, your horizons, and your average rock star's capacity for shame.
Venue: IKEA in Emeryville
Motivation: There's no money, glory, or chicks in professional Scrabble
Result: Sloppy playing. Indifferent stage presence. Mumbled, half-remembered, barely intelligible lyrics. Buckets of smarm tinged with indifference. Clearly palpable onstage intra-band hatred. And the guitar solos suck. It's as if they never left.
Band: Smashing Pumpkins
Venue: Rooster's Roadhouse in Alameda
Motivation for Reunion: Megalomania (surprise!)
Result: As their space rock Alternative Nation majesty has aged disastrously, the Pumpkins are forced to repay their dues, which might explain why they're crammed in the middle of a five-band Wednesday night bill with Mystic Rage, Numbfaced, Age of Aggression, and Blitzenhamer. The Pumpkins get a twenty-minute set and half-off pitchers of Pabst until midnight. Billy Corgan goes on to write a triple-CD rock opera about his failed attempts to hit on the Jägerettes. Hell, it'll probably be better than Adore.
Venue: The Parkway, Oakland (double feature with the big-budget Matlock remake)
Motivation: Maybe he's just like his father, too bold
Odds: Even money
Result: Another exhilarating return to form, as Prince plays the world-record 23rd leg of his "I Want 2 Play the Hits 4 U 4 the Last Time, which I Have Said 2 U for a Decade, But U Keep Showing Up So Thank U 4 Your $$$$$ U Suckas" tour.
Venue: John George Psychiatric Pavilion, San Leandro
Motivation: Recommended by group therapist
Result: After the metal institution's abrupt dissolution in 2005 following an onstage argument about whether the next song was "Unforgiven" or "Unforgiven 2," the boys spend the next five years selling jet skis, exotic piercings, Kill 'Em All-era memorabilia, and plasma, respectively. Continuing a long and storied history of drum sound innovation, Lars Ulrich replaces his kit entirely with pots and pans purchased at IKEA during the Pavement reunion show. Download an MP3 of the whole shebang at YouLostTheNapsterWarChumps.com.
Band: Guided by Voices/Wu-Tang Clan
Venue: Parking lot of the Union City In-N-Out Burger
Motivation: For the Wu, remember, "Cash Rules Everything Around Me." In Bob Pollard's case, replace "Cash" with "Busch"
Result: Two institutions that broke up just last week decide, hell, why not pool resources? A freshly paroled Ol' Dirty Bastard contributes a poignant guest rap to GBV's "Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory," and Pollard returns the favor on the Wu's "Protect Ya Neck," which earns him the honorary Wu-Tang name Esoteric Pantsless Taco-Bomber.
Band: Guns N' Roses (original lineup)
Venue: Casino San Pablo
Motivation: Mr. Brownstone
Odds: Dream on, Slappy.
Result: "You know where you are? You're playin' "No-Bust" Blackjack in San Pablo, baby! You're gonna dieeeeeeeeeeeee."
Seven Days - February 24, 5:52 PM
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
Seven Days - February 21, 3:30 PM
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM