MUSIC REVIEW | Revitalized Pixies return to Minneapolis at the State Theatre with new material in tow

If you listen closely enough, you can still hear Pixies fans referring to performances by the Boston four-piece as, “reunion shows,” or describing the band as, “reunited.” And, technically, these fans are correct. After a string of weird and wildly dynamic, near-perfect albums in the late-80s and early-90s, Pixies famously broke up via fax in 1993 before being able to truly benefit commercially from the alt-rock revolution their music had helped inspire.Because of that muted and unceremonious end in the 90s, fan and critical reaction to Pixies’ surprise reunion in the spring of 2004 bordered on the euphoric. Finally, the kids who were raised on a diet of Pixies-inspired alt-rock were grown up and had a legacy act of their own to worship after the fact. The power and excitement of those early reunion shows, (the first of which was in Minneapolis), saw Pixies reemerge as the vanguard of urbane, punkish art-rock and the good-will generated among their fans by seeing their idols back on stage has yet to dissipate.But, with a decade having passed since their first reunion concert, the frankly, (if not fairly), mixed reception of their first new album in 23 years and a cycle of two, not-original-issue bass players, the question is being begged: Is Pixies still a great band or is it just remembered that way? With a robust set of muscular guitar rock, Pixies met that question head on this week during their hour and forty-five minute set at The State Theatre in Minneapolis on Saturday, October 12.Walking out on stage in front of an adoring crowd, front man Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago filled the room with a sequence of dissonant guitar strums and feedback squalls before being joined by drummer David Lovering and touring bassist Paz Lenchantin for show-opener “Ed is Dead,” an early Pixies song that in many ways set the template for much of their discography. Continue Reading

MOVIE REVIEW | “The Dark Knight Rises”: The Batman we need, the Batman we deserve

The Dark Knight Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a movie of and about extremes. It is a movie that demonstrates what happens when men, cities, action and franchises are pushed toward the furthest edges of what was thought was possible and the inevitable tumble towards decimation that occurs when those edges are just underfoot. It is a movie of extreme length (165 minutes), extreme set pieces (featuring what must surely qualify as a cast of thousands), and extreme audience anticipation.The Dark Knight Rises attempts to meet the challenges of these wrenching expectations with pure popcorn bravado. Every moment in the movie is bigger, badder, bolder and more brazen than the last. From the hauntingly acrobatic opening action sequence all the way through its final bittersweet moments of closure and discovery, The Dark Knight Rises is an exciting, thoughtful and provocative action movie that wonderfully punctuates Nolan’s vision of Batman, while also exaggerating some of the more problematic aspects of this now decade-long superhero renaissance taking place throughout our summer cinema.For this return trip to Gotham, Nolan, along with co-writers David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, drop us in eight years after the events of 2008’s The Dark Knight. Continue Reading

The unorthodox charm of Adam Carolla

When you’re a performer out on the road, nothing wins over a restless audience faster than a nicely timed and authentic-feeling moment of admiration for a famous hometown hero. A base tactic, to be sure, but also an effective when trying to get a room warmed up and ready to agree with you. However, when dealing with comedian/writer/podcaster Adam Carolla, agreement is not a well-respected notion. So it should be no surprise that, during his resent visit to the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Carolla thought it prudent to open the second of his two shows with a diatribe berating the late-career musical stylings of Bob Dylan.

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