The Breeders@Emo's

Phases and Stages

The Breeders@Emo's

January 30 Is Eighties nostalgia already spent? Certainly this Breeders reunion had the feel of a Nineties revival. Once upon a time, college rock was king, Last Splash ruled the campuses, and everybody loved Kim Deal. Based on this night's sold-out, $17-a-head turnout, they still do. After a theremin-spiked warm-up set by Dallasite John Dufilho's Deathray Davies, it was all Breeders. They didn't detonate the opening bang one might hope for, but they did carry a solid supporting cast. Guitarist Richard Presley and bassist Mando Lopez -- both ex-Fear members -- plus drummer Jose Medeles gave Kim and sister Kelley Deal a strong safety net on a humid night when trying to find elbow room at Emo's semi-outside stage area was like navigating a meat grinder. After a number from their debut Pod, things looked up as they launched into "Safari," but where the recorded version gives focused direction to the rumbling rhythm, Wednesday night's version just drifted into sloppiness. Kelley's vocal turn on "I Just Wanna Get Along" was better, letting loose a Red Bull shot of energy. Then it was Kim again, Kelley going back to her navel-gazing, shaky guitar schtick. And why not? Kelley's the one who can barely play her instrument. That's part of the reason people love the Breeders: their imperfections and eccentricities. The new material was more miss than hit, though one perky Bad Religion-sounding number stood out. Naturally, it was the hits that got the response: the "Gigantic"-sounding "Divine Hammer," and especially the foghorn call of "Cannonball." A whimsical "Iris" and a pair of new fillers capped things off except for five minutes of Kim gabbing to the crowd and shaking hands, hoping to keep people from feeling gypped by the 40-minute show. It didn't work. At least, not until they returned unexpectedly 10 minutes later for a sudden blast that was everything the Pixies were, and everything the Breeders could be again. Far better than a last gasp, it was a hell of a postcard to remember them by.

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