When the Breeders took the White Stage promptly at 6:50 it was still raining, but the glow of the setting sun could be discerned in the west: from behind the mountains came this bright pinkish glow that intensified for a good thirty minutes before fading to grey and then black. It was quite beautiful, and made up for the dampness. It also added a visual component to a show that was at times more verbal than musical. Of course, the Breeders couldn't see the full pink glow because the stage faces east, but Kim Deal noticed something. "Did it rain all weekend? Oh, only today? Then I bet it was beautiful."
The Breeders song are beautiful as well, and maybe you need just this sort of setting to realize that. The songs on their new album, "Mountain Battles," tend to be obscured by Steve Albini's sludgy production, but on stage the seamlessness of the melodies and the intelligence of the arrangements come through. The appeal of a rocker like "Walk It Off" turns out to be the way the melody sits so snugly in Kim's throat, rather than the force of the guitar attack. And even sister Kelley Deal's barely able violin playing couldn't ruin the country corn perfection of "Drivin' on NIne."
The audience was definitely into it, and they also seemed to appreciate the shows of personality, even if they didn't always get it. Kim's and Kelley's relationship was the source of a lot of acidly humorous stage patter. "How do you say sister in Japanese?" Kim asked, and than answered it herself: "Bitch?" Prior to the non-original Spanish-language song "Regalama Esta Noche," Kim teased her sister and while her back was turned Kelley threatened her with the microphone. "I always wanted to do that...secretly." We not only learned from Kim's lips that Kelley sings Spanish but doesn't speak it and plays violin without really knowing how to play it. That's what sisters are for.
As the show fitfully wound down the rain let up, leaving the air cool and clear, and the sound more pristine. The songs, augmented by an extra member, "Cheryl from Florida," were even lovelier, but Kim's attitude remained sarcastic if also perversely sweet. They played an Amps song, their enervated version of "Happiness is a Warm Gun," and, of course, "Cannonball." It was a really nice way to welcome the night, and I mean "nice" in a good way.
photos (c) Takumi
Reported by Philip Brasor (2008.07.27 / 20:26)