Saw the Pixies in concert last night, part of their 8-night run at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.
The warm-up act was Le Tigre, who left me wishing we had gone the night before and seen Broken Social Scene. Le Tigre has this dance punk feminist thing going, very earnest in a 20-year old way (even if they are older), and they definitely appeared to be nice people. But as they largely relied on pre-recorded backing tracks that were not especially compelling, and as their words and vocal performance didn't add much, all I could think of was Ashlee Simpson. I guess Ashlee is the other way around (live band, canned vocals), but the level of creativity is comparable. Le Tigre was to a degree fun, but I had the sense they should be trying to win their dorm's talent show before they hit the main stage.
If any Le Tigre fans read this, which may be a long shot, I imagine I will hear from them.
The Pixies were pretty much all business (bills to pay?). They muffed a couple of arrangements, but were fantastic anyway. Their playlist is just exceptionally strong; hardly anyone since the Beatles could match it. They played almost everything from Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, obviously knowing where their best work is, and well-chosen scatterings from the rest. I do wish they had played Bam Thwok. One of the best concerts I've seen because the material is just so outstanding and they were generally up to playing it well.
While we're at it, my 2004 album of the year pick is Brian Wilson's Smile. True, the performance, while highly professional and skilled, has at times that generic "Beatlemania" quality to it. But the material is too good for this to matter much.
And my two picks for overrated are Franz Ferdinand (catchy but limited; once through the 80s was enough for me) and Arcade Fire (maybe I will come around, but for now they just seem too histrionic). Among the new releases I liked better were Blonde Redhead, Fiery Furnaces, Elliott Smith, A.C. Newman, Wilco, and Modest Mouse.