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Loudquietloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006).

March 23, 2010

The Scoop:
Every generation needs to have its brilliant band that implodes too soon. It may be due to personal animosities, drugs or even “creative differences.” But the story is usually the same. Earlier generations had the Beatles or The Clash. For my generation it was the Pixies.

The band formed in Boston in 1986 and released five albums of brisk, minimalist, surf-inspired punk before the in-fighting got so bad that in 1992 vocalist/guitarist Charles “Black Francis” Thompson announced in the press that the band had broken up without bothering to tell his bandmates. In the years since, the band’s reputation has only grown as the four band members went their separate ways and never looked back. Of course, that just meant that there was still money to be made from their legacy, which made a reunion inevitable.

“Loudquietloud,” by documentary filmmakers Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin, is the chronicle of that reunion, a 2004 tour through the U.S. and Europe. And to their credit, they don’t flinch in detailing the personal conflicts that led to the initial breakup, as well as the conflicts that continued on to the tour.

The film starts with the obligatory “where are they now” recap of everyone’s lives since they broke up. Thompson maintained a critically (though not necessarily commercially) successful solo career under the name of Frank Black and started a family. Bassist Kim Deal started a new band, the Breeders, with her twin sister Kelley, scoring a massive hit in 1993 with the song “Cannonball.” She struggled with alcohol abuse before getting clean in 2003. Guitarist Joey Santiago also started a family, while working as a producer and film composer. Drummer Dave Lovering eventually got out of music and was trying to make a living as a professional magician.

The foursome begins rehearsals full of excitement to be playing the old songs again. But as the grind of the tour wears on some of the old tensions resurface and they quickly settle into their four separate worlds when off-stage — Thompson working the promotional/press circuit, Deal meeting her rabid female fans while sharing a separate bus with her sister Kelley (who gets an associate producer credit on the film), Santiago struggling to finish a film score while keeping in touch with his wife and young kids via video chat, and Lovering wrapped in a cocoon of wine and his iPod. They remain cordial and friendly with each other on camera, but the awkward silences and side comments speak volumes.

But all that melts away on stage as the band rips through terrific renditions of all their best songs to sold out crowds at every stop. The contrast is dramatic and shows that the band still has some life in it yet. The result is a film that’s essential viewing for Pixies fans, as well as younger viewers who want to discover just what all the fuss is really about.

Best Bit:
Thompson trying to show Lovering a card trick. And failing.

Side Note:
The Pixies have continued to tour sporadically since 2004, but they have not recorded any new material together.

Companion Viewing:
“Instrument” (1998).

Official site.
The Documentary Blog.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

The opening:

“Something Against You”:

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