Jim DeRogatis: “The Pixies Are a Cynical Corporation Cashing in on Blatant Nostalgia”

11/20/2009 2:39 PM |

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Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun Times had a few words for the Pixies in his review of their show at the Aragon Theater last night, some of which I will paste below because they speak to what I was getting at the other day before everyone started calling me names.

When a group of revered and influential rockers come back together after a decade of acrimonious separation and/or inactivity, all but the most hard-hearted punks can grant them one lap around the reunion circuit playing the old should-have-been-hits, if only to collect the accolades and the cash that probably eluded them the first time.

Boston’s proto-alternative quartet the Pixies took that victory lap in 2004. Now, while they remain popular enough to play three nights at the Aragon Ballroom—Friday and Saturday sold out, though Thursday only was about half full—it’s hard to consider them anything but a cynical corporation cashing in on blatant nostalgia—a hipper version of Creedence Clearwater Revisited or Journey and whoever is singing with that group these days.

So go ahead, guys, and let him know that he should lighten up and stop being such a ridiculous asshole, and to quit being such an indie-purist while he’s at it. And be sure to tell him that, duh, it’s not possible that there’s anything wrong with what the band’s doing because they’re not forcing anyone to buy anything! Altough maybe you don’t have to, since it seems he already has his own commenters starting to show up. Just_A_Girl, for instance, thinks it was totally “pretentions” of him to compare them to Journey. Which is totally fair, come to think of it. I prefer to compare them to Kiss.

3 Comment

  • Well, it is kind of a ridiculous comparison (to Journey, or Creedence Revisited, or Beach Boys Family and Friends or whatever) when all of the original members are still there. Saying it doesn’t mean any more to him than those would be fair, but saying it’s a “hipper version” seems like a pretty poor analogy. Your Kiss comparison is more apt.

    Also, the “you don’t have to buy it” argument is pretty legit. I have no use for KISS whateversoever but I wouldn’t accuse them of dicking their fans out of money. Some Kiss fans love that shit. Some of them probably wish they’d called it quits years ago. I don’t really get how it’s on par with extortion, except maybe to the most compulsive of fans, and really, should we judge anyone by those people?

    Also, none of the comments on DeRogatis’s review (so far) are particularly ill-mannered or irrational.

  • See this is the problem with DeRogatis in general, the pure joy he gets out of being a contrarian/hater. I think he gets caught in the critic’s trap seeing a irreconcilable conflict between constant change/innovation and quality. While I often love artists who constantly push their boundaries, there’s also a place in the world for bands that just stick to what they do best and then doing it really well. Especially when we’re talking about a band like the Pixies, I think they’ve more than earned the right to trot around the world every half-decade or so, indie rock needs arena bands like the Pixies.

    Furthermore, I would argue that they’re not just cashing in the on nostalgia. DeRogatis compares them to feel-good boomer reunion bands, then complains that that most of the B-Sides they play aren’t good, you can’t have it both ways, sir. I think Jim may hate these classic album tours, for their vague sin of “nostalgia” but I A) think there is great joy in allowing some nostalgia in rock and B) that playing complete albums (especially with accompanying B-Sides) IS an innovative and enjoyable new concert experience. I love the album as a form and I think it’s incredible to hear great albums bad to front, I’m sorry Jim but Doolittle, Daydream Nationa, Vs. and It Takes A Nation Of Millions were all unique, fantastic live experiences that you wouldn’t get on a standard reunion tour. I won’t get to into why having to listen to album tracks, etc enhances the experience, I will just say that I finally understood the greatness of Silver after seeing the Pixies last night.

    Ultimately, what grinds my gears is the need of many to turn artists who they spent years repping into “sellouts” for simply touring and playing songs that didn’t get their full due to first time around (I don’t hear him railing against the periodic Superchunk or his beloved Feelies reunions, btw). There are some bands that really try to hurt their fans or become embarrassing later in life, but the Pixies aren’t guilty of this. They sound great, they put a good show (lights, Dali films, etc) and they haven’t made a cringe-inducing comeback record. Despite what you and Jim DeRogatis say, there can be a place in indie rock for bands like the Pixies to come back every few years and blow through an amazing and generous back catalog.

  • “Un chien andalou” screens today at Anthology: Luis Bu