A Night of Pixies Covers: Black Francis, Weird Al, Tenacious D, Flea, Others Shred the Echoplex for "Winston Calling"
Little Winston Bertrand is not quite ten months old, and already he's received probably the most spectacular Christmas present any kid is likely to get this season: Last night's supreme lineup of alt-rock giants at the Echo, lead by the mighty Black Francis and The Pixies (well, three-quarters of them anyway; Kim Deal is in London and couldn't participate), performing to raise funds to help pay for the astronomical costs of Winston's medical care. (The tot was born with two rare and life-threatening malformations; his mom, Jennifer Bertrand, is a friend of Violet Clark, Francis (nee Charles Thompson)'s wife and fellow member of Grand Duchy, also on the lineup last night.)
Braving a crisp, cold L.A. December night to pour into the Echoplex and witness an obscene amount of talent for the $25 ticket price, die-hards young and old (mostly old... okay, not old, but of an age when they were likely spinning The Pixies and most of tonight's acts at their college radio gigs) arrived promptly to catch a short but tight set from openers The 88, whose ebullient melodies and infectious beats sounded superb. (Despite the Echoplex's odd-angled sightlines, the remarkably good sound made up for that for most of the night, with exceptions; more on that later...) The evening's humble hosts took the stage next, and Grand Duchy's excellent him-and-her chemistry excelled; Francis and wife Clark are a definite presence on stage, dreamier and synthier than his Pixies and solo work but, at its best, no less indelible.
Leave it to the inimitable David J., up next, to remind everyone of the significance of the evening's date without specifically pointing it out; he opened his set with a lovely cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy," and if you knew, you knew. The Bauhaus and Love & Rockets vet brought out Francis - aka "the guv'nah" - as well to join him on celestially-twinned Pixies titles "Monkey Gone to Heaven" (on which J.'s vocals were impressively impassioned, though hovering below Francis's trademark searing wail) and "In Heaven," plus what ended up as a rousing sing-along to Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes," (An "old English folk song," as it was introduced. Indeed.)