Concert Review: The Breeders in St. Louis

Concert Review: The Breeders in St. Louis
Saturday, May 10, 2008 – Pop’s

(setlist by RØB Severson, review by Jaime Lees)

It used to take a lot for me to drag my ass to the East Side. But after last weekend, good ol’ Sauget, Illinois, might be one of my favorite places to hang out or see a show. Saturday the Breeders played Pop’s, and the whole experience was just so damn pleasant. One would never know they were mere yards from the terrifying, toothless tranny hookers that congregate just on the other side of Route 3.

Before the show I was disappointed to hear that Pop’s was going to close off half of the venue (something the venue does at certain shows), but when everyone made it inside, it was clear that this was the right decision. Floor space was tight, but not smashed and the balcony was cozy.

Sure, drinks are always more expensive on that side of the Big Muddy, but the staff was helpful and laid back, showing no signs of the aggro tendencies I’ve witnessed there during other shows. The staff seemed to recognize that this was a show for sleepy indie folks and acted accordingly. I asked a bartender if he caught the sound check and he said, “I didn’t. And you know, I don’t know anything about the band. But I’ll tell you what: those sure are some nice people. Great smiles, too.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Watching the band is like catching up with old friends. Older songs (“I Just Wanna Get Along,” “Divine Hammer”) induced much heart-swelling and the newer songs from latest album Mountain Battles (“German Studies,” “It’s The Love”) blended perfectly into these live sets. On stage, Jose Medeles and Mando Lopez, also of pumped-up punkers Fear, kept the rhythm section bumpin’ and thumpin’ while remaining mostly heard and not seen. New kid Cheryl Lindsay hopped in where needed with extra vocals and instrumentation, and mostly stood calm and still on the side of the stage.

Predictably, Kim and Kelley Deal (and their mega-watt smiles) took center-stage. Both seemed at ease, happy and comfortable with the audience, sharing jokes and answering questions. In addition to Breeders jams, the Deals sang quite a few songs by the Amps (including “Empty Glasses,” a rarity), Kim’s other band. Kelley graciously stepped into the wings when she wasn’t needed during Amps songs, but could still be seen through a rip in the stage curtain rocking out and enthusiastically singing along as if she was a mega-fan.

1. Tipp City (Amps song)
2. Huffer
3. Bang On
4. Shocker in Gloomtown (Guided By Voices cover)
5. Divine Hammer
6. Night Of Joy
7. No Aloha
8. Pacer (Amps song)
9. We’re Gonna Rise
10. It’s The Love
11. Walk It Off
12. New Year
13. Cannonball
14. I Just Wanna Get Along
15. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Beatles cover)
16. Iris
17. Safari
18. German Studies
19. Empty Glasses (Amps song)

ENCORE:
20. Overglazed
21. Fortunately Gone
22. Here No More
23. Saints

Interview with Kelley Deal of the Breeders

She’s Crafty: The Breeders’ Kelley Deal talks knitting, nudity and Steve Albini’s bodily functions
By Jaime Lees
Published on May 07, 2008

Kelley Deal co-leads the Breeders with her sister Kim, who’s best known for being a member of the Pixies (and later, the Amps). The Dayton, Ohio, quartet first found fame in the early ’90s with songs such as “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer” and is in the midst of a most welcome comeback thanks to a new album, Mountain Battles.

Its first release since 2002’s Title TK, Battles displays all of the familiar Breeders qualities — i.e., sugary vocals and inventive songwriting — while highlighting genre experimentation and improved instrumentation. Written and recorded over years with quite a few influences (most notably, engineer Steve Albini), Battles is an album that becomes more accessible with each spin, as its dazzling subtleties grow more prominent.

The sisters’ voices together are as striking as ever, producing Phil Spector-worthy harmonies that sound angelic in any language. (No, really: The Deals sing one song in Spanish and another in German.) Other album highlights include “Here No More,” a simple, prairie-style folk song and “We’re Gonna Rise,” which is a shifting and hopeful ballad. “It’s the Love” sounds the most like a classic Breeders pop tune, and seems to be a crowd favorite.

We caught up with Kelley last week while she was on a tour stop in Las Vegas.

Jaime Lees: Tell me about when you were recording your album. I love Steve Albini and obviously you like him, ’cause this is the third Breeders album you did with him.

Kelley Deal: Well, here’s the thing: We did not do that much of this record with him. But people read his name and just go [with it] because he’s such an interesting character, and he has such an interesting history with the Breeders. The thing is, on the album credits, we don’t go through everything, ’cause we went to a lot of places and worked with several different people.

The guy we worked with most on this record? His name is Manny Nieto. We met him in East Los Angeles. He had a studio there and his people call him “Albiner” ’cause he’s a huge Albini fan. He knows Steve, he talks to Steve. Now, we did go to Albini’s and we recorded. “Here No More” and “Walk it Off” were recorded and mixed by Steve. He recorded “Overglazed” and “It’s the Love” and he mixed “Regalame Esta Noche” and he did some other stuff. But “Overglazed” was mixed by Manny, “Bang On” was recorded and mixed by Manny. “German Studies” was recorded and mixed by Manny. So he actually did most of the work.

And there’s this other woman, her name is Erika Larson, she recorded “We’re Gonna Rise” and “Regalame Esta Noche.” But it’s interesting, I’ve noticed when I talk to people they say, “So you worked with Steve Albini again on the record.” And I explain it, but a lot of times they just say “worked with Steve Albini” and I don’t blame them, ’cause Steve Albini is a freak, basically. He’s a wonderful character to talk about.

Yeah! I always wanna know if he’s as serious as he leads on. I’ll watch him in interviews, and he’s just so serious.

Oh, totally. You know, in the middle of a serious discussion, he’ll lean over a cheek and fart without blinking an eye. And it’s not like he’s doing it to get a reaction, and it’s not like this huge stinky thing. [He’ll say] something about, “It’s a natural bodily function.” He’s just gonna give it a poot! If you did the same thing, he wouldn’t blink an eye. He’s just the weirdest guy. He’s so smart, too. He’s so smart it’s weird.

All of the records he makes always sound really good in my car. Does that make any sense?

Absolutely! That’s the mark of a great engineer.

OK, so, tell me about your knitting book. [the forthcoming Bags that Rock: Knitting on the Road with Kelley Deal]

[Laughs] Yes, you know, I like to knit. I did an interview with somebody in San Francisco, and when we got there I saw the interview [in print] and the caption said “Kelley Deal knits up a new record.” And I started blushing. ‘Cause, you know, it’s so uncool. But on the other hand I’m like, fuck that, man. I’m not gonna be embarrassed by it. You know, I’m gonna let my freak flag fly. You know, I like to knit, fuck everybody else. But just the word “craft.” “I craft.” It’s so lame. But anyway, yes, I like to knit. And I have a book coming out in October. Enough said about that.

What else are you doing on tour to just, like, chill?

Let’s see, what else are we doing on tour? What do I like to do? You know, I do a lot of reading. When you’re on a bus with a lot of people, when you get some time, you kind of just want to have “me time,” whatever that is. Also, I’m in Las Vegas, I’d really like to hit up a meeting, as they say. A twelve-step meeting. I’ve been to a meeting before here in Vegas, and there’s nothing cooler than that, go to an AA meeting in Vegas. You can bet it’s raw, you know? [Laughs] Like, “Oh, look at that guy. He sold his car. He gave his baby away.” But I want to go, even though I feel like I’m just an observer. I mean, and I need to go, I think it’s a good idea.

I think it’s great that you talk about stuff like that.

I never… everything is kind of open, it’s all up for grabs. I’m totally, I’m so Midwest, you know? Like, Chatty Cathy. I don’t feel like people hold back or, like [whispers], can’t ask me something because it’s inappropriate.

I’m glad the tour is going well. When I saw you guys in Austin in March you seemed kind of nervous. Oh man, but the audience was freaking out. They were really stoked to see you.

Oh good. Damn! Good! You know when we play the new songs, people love ’em. They fit right in. It’s not like people are just sitting there looking at us.

So you’re gonna come here to St. Louis. Do you know about the place you’re playing? It’s kind of like that place you’d go to see a Journey cover band.

Ha! The place that we’re playing there? Really? Oh God, I hate when you tell me shit like that, it’s so weird!

No, it’s a fun place, but it’s in East St. Louis, and it’s sort of like, you have to stay on that street or you die.

[Laughs]

So don’t go roamin’ around there.

OK. I mean, will people not come because of the location?

No, you can totally go there, you just have to go straight there and then leave. Its like, in the middle of a couple of strip clubs.

I can take my clothes off, that’s what you’re saying?

Well, uh, next door at least. Or, uh, probably there, too. It’s your show.

I’ll just take ’em off there, too.

8 p.m. Saturday, May 10. Pop’s, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois. $17 in advance, $18 at the door. 618-274-6720.

SXSW: The Random Picture Post

These snaps were just too hot not to post.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: Dead Confederate
WHEN: Wednesday, March 12, 11p.m.
WHERE: Stubb’s BBQ, big outside stage
NOTE: This band opened for R.E.M. (Athens represent) and might have been the best surprise of the festival. Read our coverage here.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: AA Bondy
WHEN: Thursday, March 13, about 9:30p.m.
WHERE: The gorgeous poolside rooftop stage of a heavily sponsored free party.
NOTE: This was one of 12 AA Bondy shows in a 3 day time span in Austin.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: downtown Austin, TX, view from the AA Bondy rooftop show
WHEN: Thursday, March 13, late night
WHERE: at 3rd Street and Guadalupe looking East
NOTE: There should be more rooftop shows. Always.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: Autolux’s Eugene Goreshter
WHEN: Friday, March 14, afternoon
WHERE: Red Eyed Fly backyard venue
NOTE: Goreshter’s amazing vocals on Autolux albums? Not studio magic. Dude actually sings like that.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, solo show
WHEN: Saturday, March 15, mid-afternoon
WHERE: Garden Party (read: gorgeous yard), the French Legation Museum
NOTE: J Mascis is a God among men (who just happens to use a baby pink Razr as his preferred cellular device.)

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: Thurston Moore and the New Wave Bandits
WHEN: Saturday, March 15, afternoon, slot after J Mascis
WHERE: East Austin, French Legation Museum
NOTE: Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore stole the show with his expansive talent and boyish charm. Read our coverage here.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: The Breeders
WHEN: Saturday, March 15, about 9p.m.
WHERE: Waterloo Park, north of downtown, 2nd stage
NOTE: Two Deals are always better than one. Read our coverage here.

photo by Jaime Lees
PHOTO: Kid Sister at the Fool’s Gold Showcase
WHEN: Saturday, March 15, 1a.m. (after Flosstradamus, before Chromeo)
WHERE: Volume nightclub, next to the told Emo’s on 6th Street
NOTE: Kid Sister claimed she was crunk but she still held down her raps with a little help from brother Josh “J2K” Young (of super-fly duo Flosstradamus) as back up.Category: Music, Reviews, SXSW, Snapshots

The Breeders at SXSW

The Breeders played an unofficial South By Southwest show in Waterloo Park last night and gave the audience a small preview of its upcoming tour. The band dished out a long set of classics from its albums, plus selections from the Amps (Kim Deal’s other, other project). Instead of serving as a nostalgia act, the Breeders seemed fresh, well rehearsed and enthusiastic about the show. Surprisingly, even songs off of the forthcoming Mountain Battles went over well. As usual, Kim and Kelley Deal were gracious, dorky, sweet, smiling and sang in perfect angelic harmony. Kelley, especially, seemed into the performance. On stage wearing her “Dayton, Ohio” t-shirt, she picked up the bass and joked “I wish I knew a Korn song.” Their parents really should have had more kids.

Setlist (from picture):
Overglazed / Bang On / Tipp City / No Aloha / Huffer / Walk It Off / We’re Gonna Rise / Pacer / Shocker in / Gloomtown / Night of Joy / Divine Hammer / Cannonball / Happiness in a Warm Gun / Iris / Saints / Safari / Here No More Encore: Fortunately Gone / German Studies / Regalme

Note: pictured setlist isn’t entirely accurate, “Regalme Esta Noche” wasn’t played and I remember rocking out to quite a few songs that weren’t listed (“Doe,” “Hellbound,” “It’s the Love,” etc.)

Interview with Bobby Bare Jr.


Bare Is My Mind?
Bobby Bare Jr. covers up with his ace Pixies and Breeders tribute act.
By Jaime Lees
Published: January 2, 2008

Call him what you will — Charles Thompson, Black Francis or Frank Black, but as the frontman of the Pixies, ol’ what’s-his-name deserves a little praise. From 1985 to 1993 Black pulled lead singing and songwriting duties for America’s preeminent alternative band — and is credited with bringing killer caterwauls, magnetic guitar hooks and paranoid, UFO-themed lyrics to the masses. The Pixies reigned over college radio and youth culture for a time, and the bands that followed in its sonic wake still hail the power of the quartet as a revelation. (Most famously, its loud/quiet/loud dynamic was claimed to be the sound inspiration for a blue-eyed, blond-haired guy fronting some band called Nirvana.)

Nashville singer-songwriter Bobby Bare Jr. counts himself among the Pixies’ many fans. As the son of country musician Bobby Bare, he grew up around music and has the distinction of receiving a Grammy nomination at the age of five. First fronting the rock band Bare Jr. — and now as a solo artist churning out stripped-down, bittersweet compositions that push the envelope of alt-country — Bare has found genuine success throughout his entire career.

But for now, Bare has put all solo and future plans on pause in order to squeeze one more project into his busy schedule: His very own Pixies cover band, Is She Weird, Is She White. (Appropriately, it’s currently touring with a Guided By Voices cover band, the Teenage FBI.) Bare’s Pixies covers can sound much different than the originals, often changing the tempo or the tone of the songs — making these interpretations insightful, if not asking the audience to listen again with fresh ears.

Which begs the question: Why would Bare, a renowned solo artist and pedigreed musician, start a cover band? That scene is usually a schlocky, dirty world populated by balding has-beens and portly never-beens. Why would Bare take the chance of sullying his good name — and embrace another artist’s music?

“Because the Pixies fuckin’ rock!” Bare explains, enthralled.

And indeed, his love of Black Francis is well-documented. The lyrics to “Dig Down,” a song found on Bare’s first solo album, Young Criminals’ Starvation League, include Francis in an exalted list of historical rock icons. Bare sings about all of the distinguished dudes who have used up all the soul and original ideas in the world of rock & roll, listing Francis in a pantheon of recognized legends including Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry and the Beatles.

When we catch up with Mr. Bare via phone, he seems honest and charmingly childlike, as though he can’t contain any emotion — be it excitement or insecurity. He comes off as a hyperactive kid on a sugar high when talking about music that thrills him, and he’s eager to relay fanboy stories of Frank Black and the Pixies (like a fantastic, “freaked out” moment when he sang background vocals on a recent Frank Black record). And of course, Bare’s most eager to discuss his past and future work — and undying love for the Pixies.

Bobby Bare Jr.: I obviously have been a fan for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s like, I don’t know, do you dress up for Halloween?

Jaime Lees: Oh, hell yeah.
It’s exactly like dressing up for Halloween, for a musician. It’s just fun to be somebody else.

How do you have time to get all of this done?
It’s a whole lot of work. Usually for a real set you learn fifteen songs — like, for an hour [long] set. If you learn fifteen Pixies songs you’ve only learned 30 minutes worth of music. So, you know, we’ve got to learn twenty-something songs. And we do some Breeders songs.

What’s your favorite to sing? Or what do you most look forward to?
What songs? The ones like “Gigantic,” where I just play guitar. ‘Cause I never, ever get to just play guitar in any band. So that’s what’s fun to me.

Are the people who come to the shows your fans? Or Pixies fans? Or a mix?
Um, I think they’re just mostly Pixies fans. We’ve only done this in Nashville. This is going to be our first show out of town.

The St. Louis one is?
Yeah. We’ve only done probably four of these. It’s me; the former drummer from […And You Will Know Us By the] Trail of Dead [Doni Schroader]; and Beth Cameron, both of whom are also in a band called Forget Cassettes. And a girl named Leah [Paxton] who’s been in bands with the other two people.

How did you get hooked up with the Guided By Voices tribute band?
It’s other people who have been in my band. It’s my drummer from my last tour who is also the drummer for Clem Snide [Ben Martin]. The guitar player is William Tyler; he’s in Lambchop and the Silver Jews.

Did you go see any of their [Pixies] reunion tour shows?
Yes, I saw three of them. I played Sasquatch in Seattle and Austin City Limits in Austin where they were the headlining band….But they played the Ryman Auditorium [in Nashville] and that was the best show I’ve ever seen anybody do anywhere. Seeing them at a festival where there’s 75,000 people was just OK, but at the Ryman it was transcendent.

Did you hear any of the new Breeders album yet?
No! When did it come out?

It didn’t come out yet, but they leaked a single online last week.
Oh, wow. Is it good?

It’s really good. It’s sort of like, sleepy-time Breeders, you know? It’s really pretty. They said that they’re going to have a whole U.S. tour in the spring and do South By Southwest…
For the Breeders? Holy cow. Awesome. Isn’t there supposed to be a Pixies album, too?

I don’t know. No one ever gives a straight answer on that crap.
Do you think anybody will come out and see us?

Heck yeah. We’re big here on fun shows…So are you gonna call yourself Bare Robert or something?
Naw, I’ll just be Bobby.

9 p.m. Thursday, January 3. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363

  • 01-02-08 Riverfront Times (St. Louis) – article link
  • 12-17-07 reprint in the Nashville Scene (Nashville) – article link
  • Bobby Bare Jr. – website