Weekend DVD – loudQUIETloud (A Film About the Pixies)

Pixies“I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies” Kurt Cobain, 1994. That’s the quote that opens the film and it tells you why the Pixies are one of the most important bands of the last 20 years. That quote was taken from a Rolling Stone interview, where cobain was asked on his influences were, when he wrote “Nevermind”. Back in the late 80’s, the Pixies were the last big underground band; they never signed to a major label, they didn’t sell a lot of records but their music inspired a generations of bands. Ever since about about 2002, there had been rumours of a reunion of the band that broke up acrimonously in 1993. Eventually all the members agreed and performed some small shows in the Midwest of the US. Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin were given complete access to the band, from before the first shows to the completition of the tour.

It’s this access which is what makes loudQUIETloud a treat for Pixies fans. The band have long been media shy and refrain from talking about themselves and the individuals in the group. There’s also a great deal of honesty offered, whether it’s most of the band agreeing that the main reason for the tour is financial or highlighting the frustrations of being in a band with people you don’t really get along with. The four members are each interesting in their own right. Singer Frank Black has to listen to self-motivational tapes before going onstage, despite being the amazing reaction of the crowd every night. Bassist Kim Deal is friendly and upbeat, but trying hard every day not to fall off the wagon and start drinking. Guitarist Joey Santiago is maybe the most well balanced; a devoted family man who’s been taking jobs soundtracking documentaries to make ends meet. Drummer Dave Lovering has a mid-tour breakdown after his father passes away and takes comfort in booze and pills, much to the chagrin of his band mates (Santiago especially).

There’s plenty of great moments that stuck with me, the reactions of fans who had never been able to see the band first time round, Joey meeting his new born son for the first time, Dave Lovering’s on stage cock up where he keeps playing despite the fact the rest of the band have finished playing. Maybe the only flaw with the film is the lack of any kind of narrative or climax; the film simply stops after the first tour. Considering the band went onto headline festivals and massive gigs (like the one I went to in Edinburgh), it would have been great to see the band play to the massive audience’s they should have the first time round. The DVD is pretty good, the picture quality is crisp and the sound is great during the gig scenes. There’s a slightly dry, but informative commentary by the directors and editor, and there’s a glut of deleted scenes which include a visit to Icelandic, post-rockers Sigur Ros’ own studio and an interview with producer Steve Albini.

I’m not really sure if loudQUIETloud will appeal to anyone other than Pixies fans. It does show a compelling portrait of people struggling to communicate despite making brilliant music on stage and captivating people all over the world. It maybe will make people think about the financial realities of what a band on an indie label will go through. As a film though, it’s definately more informative than entertaining.

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