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Big Fun

Pixies showed us they’re still large and in charge at sold-out concert at The Florida Theatre


It was a good-smelling crowd.

At least that was my initial response Sunday night when my girlfriend and I sat down in our seats at the Pixies sold-out show at The Florida Theatre.

AXE body products, clean-smelling hair, Dr. Bronner, deodorants and emollients, a hint of craft beer, beard oil! ... no scent of weed or nachos ... when you're 46 and sober, more than anything else, it's about how hygienic the crowd is and how they smell, along with those same ticketholders honoring the "don't invade my space" credo and finding a clear sightline to the stage.

Sadly, at one point, my girlfriend, Erica, leaned over and informed me, "She keeps touching me!" of the good-times-partyin' gal to her left.

I'm surely a curmudgeon and a total hypocrite.

During my late-teen years in the late '80s, my friends and I would travel miles to any Jesus Lizard gig.

Over the course of the Jesus Lizard's alcoholic vortex gig, singer David Yow would routinely pull his testicles out through the zipper of his beer-and-sweat-drenched blue jeans (he called this unwarranted ball peep show "The Brain"). I nearly saw Yow's nuts as much as I gandered at my own.

So I'm hardly a hand-wringing Calvinist.

That being said, I don't want to see anything jutting out of anyone in the band. Nor do I want to see a fellow audience member's members, testicles, third nipples or any nudity.

And I don't want to smell you any more than I want to see you nude.

So aroma is key.

Up in the balcony of The Florida Theatre, it might've smelled like GG Allin's litter box.

But as we had, inexplicably, scored really good seats, we lived it up in the fresh-aired VIP "Nostrilarrarium" of the 10th row of SEC200.

Friends had assured us that the opening act, The Wombats, were great but, quite frankly, the trio came across like the Jonas Brothers with pricey Orange tube amps.

Their songs were quick little poppy-punk nuggets.

They sang some song about Dee Dee Ramone or Johnny Thunders; maybe Buster Poindexter. Couldn't really pin it down.

To be completely honest, during their set, I began wondering why I had never had kids. "Oh, this is why," I realized, snapping back to reality. "So they wouldn't form a band like this."

The Pixies hit the stage at nine o'clock sharp, opening with a languid version of "Wave of Mutilation" (my personal favorite song by the band).

Everybody stood up.

My 5-foot-3-inch girlfriend scowled at my 6-foot-4-inch self.

We stood up.

She couldn't really see a damn thing.

"You should sit on my shoulders like we're at a 1981 Pat Benatar concert."

She shot me a look of unmistakable hate-you-so-much-right-now.

Featuring founding members Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering, and current bassist Paz Lenchantin, Pixies played a strong 90-minute set of expected hits and newer material.

Was founding bassist-vocalist Kim Deal missed? Absolutely.

A good 75 percent of last night's crowd has listened to Pixies for 30 years of their lives and Deal's vocals and genius-simple bass riffs are embedded into those earliest Pixies' songs and, in turn, within the rock-genetic memories of those fans assembled at Florida Theatre.

But Lenchantin was on point and we never felt as if she was "replacing" Deal; Lenchantin brings her own undeniable skills to any Pixies performance, be it stage, recording or video - one of which she directed herself.

And the Pixies were fucking fantastic - restraint and release, their well-acknowledged economy of melody and beats; 30-plus years later and still a kind of marvel of modern rock, especially when considering the era when they first appeared, which was calibrated by '80s MTV hairspray-wank of pop metal offset by super-subterranean-underground bands that were soon elevated to, forced into - and then destroyed by - terms like college rock, alt-rock and the Sarin nerve gas of the whole deal: Grunge.

Songs like "Here Comes Your Man," "Debaser," "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Where is My Mind?" were met with euphoric joy and slobbery zeal by the crowd - including my girlfriend and me - granted, I never really followed the band post-Doolittle, but even their newer tunes - or at least new to me - had total appeal within the Pixies' approach to writing pop tunes that have been consumed and improved by sonic dissonance and lyrical derangement.

I will say this: The band wasn't big on "crowd work."

Black Francis would approach the mic between songs, but no "Hello, Jacksonville!" or "Gee, it's hot as fuck in your city." Zilch. No small talk at all.

Early on in the show, one reveler just two rows in front of us had brought a much-needed dash of 1969-Stones-at-Altamont flavor by pulling his shirt over his head and hiding in there for a good five-to-seven minutes.

Jutting his wrists up through the gray shirt's armholes, he surely liked the music; he may have also liked the smells.

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