LIVE: The Breeders @ the Upstate Concert Hall, 10/28/18

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Review by Steven Stock

The Breeders closed their main set at the Upstate Concert Hall with a powerful version of “Gigantic,” a song that Kim Deal co-wrote and sang on the Pixies landmark 1988 LP Surfer Rosa (reissued as an expanded three-disc set by 4AD two days prior to this concert and well worth picking up).

Inspired by the interracial romance flick “Crimes of the Heart,” “Gigantic” was a beguiling blend of Deal’s pop instincts and Pixies ferocity, its repetitive bassline leading to a sing-along chorus with an irresistible hook. The only single from Surfer Rosa, “Gigantic” not only paved the way for the Pixies’ subsequent success, it effectively foreshadowed Deal’s career with The Breeders.

Since debuting in 1990 with Pod, The Breeders have released just five albums (six if you count closely related side-project The Amps). So they’re not exactly prolific, but Deal and her cohorts have never made a bad record. Their latest, All Nerve, is no exception and was well-represented by six songs during their Clifton Park appearance, including a rare lead vocal from imperturbable bassist Josephine Wiggs on “MetaGoth.”

The band – kickass drummer Jim Macpherson and Kim’s sister Kelley Deal on guitar complete the quartet – raced through 24 songs in just 84 minutes, so there wasn’t any gratuitous soloing. A couple of false starts along the way and a barely-rehearsed version of John Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme” (augmented by opening act Screaming Females and guest keyboardist Kyle Rector – “it’s an orgy” remarked Kim) for the first encore might lead one to underestimate the band’s proficiency, but in truth the way the Deal sisters intertwine their guitar playing requires a certain understated virtuosity.

On the rare occasions when there are precisely picked solos – early highlight “Divine Hammer,” for instance – Kelley takes the lead, but more often the Deal sisters play complementary parts reminiscent of Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson from Lush.

After glancing at Michael Azerrad’s new book “Rock Critic Law,” I’m unable to call New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Screaming Females a power trio without wincing. They are nonetheless a trio and a powerful one at that, with the diminutive Marissa Paternoster unleashing gnarly guitar lines not far removed from Mountain’s Leslie West, backed by bassist Mike Abbate and drummer Jarrett Dougherty. Not all the songs were great but Paternoster’s piercing voice always commands attention.

THE BREEDERS SET LIST
Saints
Wait in the Car
No Aloha
Divine Hammer
All Nerve
New Year
Cannonball
Bang On
Skinhead #2
Fortunately Gone
Howl at the Sunset
Drivin’ on 9 (Ed’s Redeeming Qualities)
Off You
Spacewoman
Glorious
Nervous Mary
SOS
Do You Love Me Now?
I Just Wanna Get Along
MetaGoth
Gigantic (Pixies)
ENCORES
Halloween Theme (John Carpenter) with Screaming Females
Shocker in Gloomtown (Guided by Voices)
When I Was a Painter

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