TEXT/PHOTOS BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
The Breeders. My god. Has it really been twenty years since I have seen this storied Last Splash configuration of the band that I love more than The Pixies? Two decades since I saw Josephine, Kim, Kelley and Jim share the stage. Since I sat in Bonner Springs, Kansas and soaked up the sun’s death rays during the sweltering Midwest summer of 94 for Lollapalooza? Where God, did the time go? How did the days, months and years slip away? Perhaps why I like to attend shows by bands that I saw so long ago; from when I was, young and wide-eyed to what the world would bring, do I miss who I was? I am sure it is a grab, however futile, to recapture moments that I will never have back, moments that have been replaced by grey hair, children, responsibility, loneliness and worry. On the other hand, maybe I attend these shows because these bands shaped who I am and many, like wine, seem to improve with age.
Such is the case with The Breeders.
As I stood in line outside of my favorite KC haunt, the sold out Recordbar in the heart of Kansas City’s Westport District, an all too familiar feeling began to creep up my spine. You know the one: the jitter of anticipation, the bouncy vibration of sound check traveling out into the street, teasing us, calling us to come closer, like sirens to the rocks and we would go willingly, blindly. It was the typical early September Missouri night: hot, humid, uncomfortable but no one cared; we were the precious, lucky few that would see The Breeders in this intimate setting (a sell-out at the Recordbar is 300 tickets according to owner/former Season to Risk front man Steve Tulipana) and we could barely contain ourselves.
Once inside we could cool ourselves with reasonable priced alcohol (my weapon of choice was an ice cold Hamm’s) and pass away the 45 minutes until our icons took the stage. The Funs are a decent enough noise rock band from New Douglas, Illinois. They melded together influences like The Velvet Underground, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Suicide, Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine for a racket that would have been quite entertaining had my mind not been on the night’s openers, the women walking around far younger than I and the aforementioned frosty beverage in my hand.
Finally the time had come. The Breeders took the stage and played the subdued “Off You” from 2002’s Title TK before tearing through “Saints” and “Hag” from their landmark Last Splash, a record that the band had just celebrated with a 20th Birthday world tour.
Everything would be perfect this night. Kim’s voice rang through the room like a bell, a feat that could be attributed to God and the quality soundman behind the board. Kelley Deal’s guitar snarled and growled, Jim MacPherson’s drums sounded as spot on as they did 2 decades ago and the lovely Miss Josephine Wiggs bass held all the band from falling off the edge, with her delicate, stoic and masterful approach to her Rickenbacker.
The night represented a new time for The Breeders. While the band played a set that reveled in all stages of their career, though it leaned quite heavily on the band’s debut Pod, it was also a night to bring out a couple cuts that will appear on an upcoming record, much to the joy of the sweaty and smiling crowd. “All Nerve” and “Launched” sounded like the band had never lost a second of time together, as if it were 1994 and it was all love, exciting and new. The songs dripped of the classic sound: quiet and lovely, loud and unnerving at times, they were exactly what everyone in attendance wanted to hear. Capped off with “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” the Beatles cover from Pod that made everyone in the room go apeshit, the Kim Deal “solo” single “Walking with a Killer” and the aggressive personal favorite of mine, “New Year” from Last Splash and the night was nearly perfect.
Had they played “Do You Love Me Now?” and had the woman next to me, trying desperately to write on my setlist, graciously given to me by the guitar tech while she threw a stuffed unicorn to Kelley and had she zipped her lip, it would have been a perfect night for me. However, that’s ok, you can’t always get what you want and, at this stage in my ever more surreal life, I got what I needed. I’ll love The Breeders until my dying day and forever longer. Moreover, yes, I still
Walking with a Killer
Happiness is a Warm Gun