A-List Intimidation at The Pixies Show

I’ve never felt less cool than when I was a V.I.P. at The Pixies.

Despite wearing a wristband proving I belonged in rock high society, I felt like the nerd trying to sit at the popular kids lunch table. All I wanted to do was become best friends with Frank Black and talk about The Pixies. Is that really so much to ask for?

By Devon Bristol Shaw

Surrounded by a posse of the music world’s elite, like Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke and Old 97’s dreamy frontman Rhett Miller, Frank Black was unapproachable—and seemed to like it that way.

Or maybe I was just imagining that, because for the first time in my life I felt star-struck.

Though I was V.I.P., Black’s table was a sealed-off fortress right next to mine, equipped with its very own velvet rope and bouncer. Funny enough, the bouncer kind of looked like Frank Black, a tall bald white dude round in the middle. In fact, I looked down at the sea of peasants in general admission, and many of the men down there rocked a similar style to Black too.

I tried to approach Black, but when you’re engulfed by your rock star idols and trying to talk to a famous musician wearing dark Ray-Bans indoors, all your insecurities start to flash in front of your eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about how big time rock stars like Bono, Thom Yorke and Bowie have praised The Pixies. Kurt Cobain even once told Rolling Stone that he was just trying to sound like them when he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

By Devon Bristol Shaw

Nonetheless, I figured I would at least be able to say a simple hello to him.

I turned my head and my heart leapt into my throat. There he was, a man instantly recognizable as The Pixies’ frontman, Frank Black. You’d think a 52-year-old rock dad wouldn’t be so intimidating, but, I’ve spent hours on YouTube obsessively watching Pixies videos. The sight of Frank Black had me shook.

I took a deep breath with the intention of blurting out whatever greeting I could think of, something like “here’s looking at you kid” or another potentially embarrassing movie quote. Then, to my dread, we made eye contact. I thought, “now or never, idiot.”

The words had almost left my mouth when, all of a sudden, the real Frank Black took the stage. I was now not only nervously sweating, I was also very confused.

Turns out, the man next to me must’ve been some other fat guy wearing Ray-Bans indoors. I was only able to feel bummed for a second, however, because once the lights went down and the music started I was hooked and nothing else could steal my attention.

The set-up exceeded expectations. I’ve been to Webster Hall many times, and usually it’s just the band with their instruments and maybe a banner in the background. However, The Pixies’ set-up had a huge light display drenching them in a glorious glow and giving the raised drum set a godly appearance. Even the A-list musicians surrounding me appeared to be in awe.

Though the beloved Kim Deal left the band in 2013, the newest bassist, Paz Lenchantin still rocked the stage just as much. Deal is close to the hearts of many fans in The Pixies’ original cult following, but Lenchantin was still able to woo this crowd. She has a similar aesthetic to Deal, sporting a baby doll dress while simultaneously head-banging her long locks. And compared to the rest of The Pixies on stage, Lenchantin provided the most energy.

After the awe-factor rolled over the entire venue, it became easy to just sit back and enjoy The Pixies live set. The last time I saw these guys was for their first reunion tour when I was 12 years old and was disappointed it wasn’t Beyoncé. I’ve come a long way from that and I, like everyone else in the building, sang along to the hits like “Where Is My Mind?,” “Gigantic” and “Debaser.”

For what felt like days, The Pixies rallied up a crowd of longtime fans (including the V.I.P. rockstars). When they finally finished, which turned out to actually only be around an hour and a half, the hoards of people stood around clueless with what to do with their lives next. I stood there debating if I should wait around and take a second go at meeting the infamous Frank Black or not. Or at least give an appreciative nod to Rhett Miller.

But, to my dismay, the V.I.P. section started to thin out shortly after the general admission crowd cleared. As I stood there with my friends, some of the few people left, I wonder where the hell my well-regarded confidence had gone. Was I the only one on that balcony trying to keep her cool on the outside, but freaking out on the inside?

Sadly, I didn’t come across Frank Black again (or Rhett Miller). I blame the overstimulation of too many rock idols that night—I was unable to mentally prepare. Next time though, I’ll be ready and Mr. Black Francis, get ready to meet your new BFF.

By Devon Bristol Shaw

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