PIXIES and Modest Mouse Bring Unforgettable Concert To Freedom Hill

Indie rock luminaries PIXIES and Modest Mouse put on a top tier concert for spectators at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill Tuesday night in Sterling Heights. The bands were joined by special guest, Cat Power.
The tour is a continuation of a sold-out trek that took the same trio across North America last August and September.

PIXIES were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 and have left a lasting impact throughout the veins of alternative rock music. This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of PIXIES’ groundbreaking album, Doolittle. With enduring tracks such as “Wave Of Mutilation” and “Here Comes Your Man”, the album has frequently found itself on lists classifying it as one of the greatest of all time.
PIXIES’ music has unequivocally inspired and influenced generations of artists such as Nirvana, early guitar-driven Radiohead, Weezer and Arcade Fire. David Bowie even described PIXIES as “the psychotic Beatles”.
A unique amalgamation of cryptic prose, surf rock, punk aggression and positively infectious melodies, their distinctive songwriting and musical style laid important groundwork for countless songwriters. Their aberant style of expression presents songs that are somehow harrowed, but also uplifting, with no need for a debaser here.

Modest Mouse came to fruition in 1993 in Issaquah, Washington, but now find their home base in Portland, Oregon. After their first two albums released independently, they soon caught the attention of some major record labels. Under Epic (Sony), the band released their pinnacle critically-acclaimed album, The Moon & Antarctica in 2000. The genre-bending band found commercial success with 2004’s album, Good News For People Who Love Bad News. With vocalist Isaac Brock‘s unique and sometimes spastic vocals, their breakthrough optimistic hit “Float On” was unlike anything else on the radio. After a hiatus, the band returned with two more albums in 2015 and 2021 respectively. Modest Mouse remains a staple on indie rock playlists, and has continued to produce exemplary music.

To start off the night, Cat Power (AKA “Chan” Marshall) and her band took to the stage at around 6:30 PM. With a short hairstyle, shoulder-cut shirt and sunglasses, she was dressed for the sweltering, humid heat.
Under purple lights, a shining moment of her performance was a beautiful cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Like all of her covers, Cat Power put her own stamp and sound on the song, making it her own.
Her stunning voice filled the Amphitheatre. In a relatable moment she said, “We’re almost done here. I might throw up from anxiety. Anybody feel anxiety?”
Toward the end of the set, she made sure to shout out and introduce each of her band members. To close out her night, she encouraged the audience, “Thank you so much. Take care of yourself. Fight the power! Be gentle to yourself.”

Once the stage was set, smoke rose to welcome Modest Mouse. Lead singer Isaac Brock asked the crowd, “How we all doing?” and started into “The Stars Are Projectors”.
After the song “3rd Planet”, Brock commented on the blinding sun. “Well, isn’t this fucking lousy for you. Look at the sun, right in your face! How ’bout that?” He continued, “…and now it’s gone” as a cloud immediately covered the bright rays. “Thank you all for coming out.”
Fans jumped up and thrashed their hands as Modest Mouse began the upbeat “Dashboard”. “The dashboard melted, but we still had the radio…”

During “Wooden Soldiers”, multi-instrumentalist Keith Karman showed off his skill with a melodica.
For “Missed The Boat”, electric guitars were swapped for acoustic as the band strummed in impressive unison. The crowd exclaimed an excited cheer as they recognized the song.
To start off “Satin In A Coffin”, Brock impressively plucked at a banjo. The audience cheered as the beat kicked in. Several sang along with the chorus, “Are you dead are you sleeping?”
When the band started into the smash, “Float On”, cell phones rose to capture the moment. Audience members sang along and chanted back “We’ll all float on – ALL RIGHT!”
Modest Mouse closed out their charged set with “Spitting Venom” and set the stage wonderfully for their co-headliners to come.

At just after 9 PM, the stage was illuminated in bright white lights as PIXIES emerged to gouge away at the night’s anticipation. Like a true man in black, PIXIES’ frontman Black Francis donned a dark shirt and sunglasses. PIXIES started their set with a tremendous cover of “Cecilia Ann” by The Surftones.

Without any breaks, PIXIES kept their songs continuously coming throughout the night.
Across the tour, PIXIES have been delivering a setlist that is unique to each venue. This was emphasized by the debut of “You’re So Impatient” and “No. 13 Baby”. Their set included tracks that spanned their expansive catalogue, with their beautiful harmonies and raw guitar sound doing each song righteous justice. Lights changed and covered the stage at varying angles to provide each song with a different accent.

During “Caribou”, Black Francis’ voice powered over the crowd. The song displayed his vocal range from charging wails to the gentle harmonies that he shared with the band.
To start off “Mr. Grieves”, guitar sauntered as Black Francis sang, “I hope everything is alright.” The crowd cheered back to indicate they were doing just fine. “I said I hope everything is alllrriiiiii-ha-hhhiiiiggghhhttt!” Several in the audience swayed and danced along to the upbeat song.
PIXIES’ harmonies shone extraordinarily bright during “All Over The World”.
Under a red light backdrop, the audience sang along for the chorus of “Monkey Goes To Heaven”, and emphatically shouted into the final verse. “If the devil is six, then God is seven, then God is seven, then God is seven!”

Next up was “Debaser” from the album, Doolittle. The guitar melody soared as bassist Emma Richardson beautifully held out the final note, which was welcomed by several cheers of appreciation. PIXIES then presented a spectacular cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On”. Fans danced extra hard to the punk-infused and upbeat track.
After the emotive and reflective “Vegas Suite”, a bassline welcomed in “Head On (Lady In The Radiator Song)”. Emma Richardson fronted the vocals of the Peter Ivers and David Lynch cover The gorgeous tone of Richardson’s voice bathed the Amphitheatre.

PIXIES subsequently began playing into the anthemic “Where Is My Mind?” The audience joined in, singing along to the high “OOOOooohhhhh”s that carried throughout the song. Freedom Hill became a PIXIES chorus as several phones recorded the unforgettable tune.

PIXIES closed out their night with an incredible cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong”.
To conclude their exceptional show, the stage lights brightened as PIXIES formed a line to wave and bow several times to the insatiable crowd.

PIXES and Modest Mouse will be continuing their tour throughout the end of June.

Photos and review by : Tiffany “Rune” Cuthrell

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