See also: Q&A with Kelley Deal of the Breeders
Opening with "Off You," Kim's guitar and voice bounced around the hall with minimal accompaniment. Kelley stood in the corner of the stage, surrounded by guitars as she shuffled papers on a music stand and sipped a Coca-Cola. Everything Kelley was feeling shone on her face -- throughout the night when she clearly thought she was messing something up, she would wince and look at her sister for approval. It was like peeking in on band practice, the inner-workings of just how the Breeders' work together exposed.
Drummer Jim Macpherson remained vocally silent the entire set, but bassist Josphine Wiggs was perhaps the most talkative. She explained that the Joy Division shirt she was wearing was in honor of the Rocky Mountains, comparing the Peter Saville design to our state license plate. She also later explained that for this tour, each of the band members designed a shirt for sale at the merch table. But it was the man in the crowd holding up a '90s Breeders t-shirt with the cover art from the "Cannonball" single while they actually played "Cannonball" who had the one I think we all secretly wanted.
What was most interesting about the evening was the extremely positive reaction from the crowd to new material. In fact, I've never heard an audience be as vocally supportive of a band's new stuff as they were the veritable classics. As Kim announced fresh, unreleased tracks like "Skinhead Number Two" and "All Nerve," voices from the audience shouted "You're doing great!" and "We love the new stuff!" The new stuff was indeed great, flowing seamlessly with songs like "Doe," "Lime House," "Hellbound" and the band's cover of "Happiness is a Warm Gun" from Pod. Again, it was less like a show and more like an intimate look at your favorite band in rehearsal as they worked things out together live. At one point, Kim shared that she had written some lyrics to a new song but they ended up sounding too similar in subject matter to another track, so she just hummed along as the untitled track played out. It proved that even if Kim Deal isn't even singing actual words, the music she creates is still perfectly consumable.
As much as Kim was confident, Kelley still looked unsure if she was supposed to be there at all -- but then she would turn around and shred through many Last Splash favorites like "Divine Hammer," "Saints" and "Hag." Once a song was over, she would gently switch guitars and flash a sweet grin at the crowd, before picking up another Fender and slaying all over again.
Together, the sisters' similar angelic voices complimented each other, a sweetness that has come to define the Breeders' work just as much as their juxtaposing miniature walls of sound have. "New Year" and "No Aloha" made the crowd happy, and after close to twenty songs and an encore that ended with the searing "Iris," the night felt complete.
If there is an opposing side to the rock star ego, it is the Breeders. It's not an insecurity that they show as much as an ability to be willing to mess up in front of a crowd that loves them. Each little stop and start and off-time note came with smiles from the band, along with jokes and fluid conversation with the audience that made the night feel like a secret show. The Deal sisters are one-of-a-kind and the Breeders ability to write and play incredible rock n' roll while being completely gimmick-less and cliche-free is something more band should aspire to do.
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