To say that seeing the Pixies perform live was an item for my bucket list is simply untrue. There is no way that I could ever imagine being able to see the iconic band who formed the soundtrack of my youth in person. So, when I was asked to cover the event for work, you can be sure that I dove at the opportunity.
I remember the first time that I heard a Pixies song, it wasn’t their pop culture smash hit, Where is my Mind, but Gigantic. My first introduction to the electo-grunge-rock band from Boston was the raspy vocals of Black Francis and the fierce bass playing skills of Kim Deal. I have always responded well to a bit of mystery and suspense, and starting my Pixies journey with a song based on Crimes of the Heart was the perfect start.
Walking toward the Festival Lawns was like walking toward my high school reunion – or a PTA meeting. You need to understand that the Pixies formed in 1989 and have been a cult staple for countless angst ridden teens who eventually grow up. We were those teenagers, walking in droves toward the organised chaos that is a rock festival. There was a comradery, we all knew why we were there and we were all so ready for this. We’d been ready since the 90’s.
Before I get carried away with how awestruck I was standing right in front of the stage where the legendary masters of rock stood, let me start at the beginning – well the beginning of my evening at any rate. Hosted by Carnival City and Amp Events South Africa, Rock on the Lawns was set to be the reintroduction of rock and roll day festivals in South Africa. Sure, there are the Oppi’s of the world, but when last was there an event of Coke Fest proportions? Not only did the organizers manage to bring out the cream of the SA music crop, but they also managed to get the Pixies to step onto a stage in the middle of Brakpan. That’s pretty darn amazing.
You know the feeling you get when you can feel the music vibrating the ground below you, when the vocals are so raw and beautiful that the hair on your arms stands up and you feel every lyric hit your soul. That is how it felt for me, that is how music feels for me. There were other incredible bands that I did talk about when I started this post. But, I’m 34 revisions in and I still can’t decide what should stay and what should go because the entire day was magnificent.
The build up to Springbok Nude Girls started when the wind started to come up, which contributed to the anxious atmosphere that once they hit the stage, we were gearing up for The Pixies. I’ve always adored Arno Carstens and had the biggest teen girl crush on the rebel son of South African rock, so obvs I died a little when I saw him step onto stage. I think the entire audience felt the same way when the Nude Girls started their set, and everything erupted. They kept their set short, but absolutely phenomenal and ignited the crowd to start chanting for Bubble-gum on my Boots – their 90’s smash hit. If rock and roll bucket lists were a thing, Springbok Nude Girls is definitely on my list!
There was no grand entrance, no fanfare or announcement that they were arriving. The crown stood in bated breath, waiting in anticipation while roadies did sound checks in front of them. Cheers, chants and the tension of waiting to see the band that brought thousands of fans together on the Festival Lawns live. You could tell that it was one of those moments that you’d tell your kids (if you didn’t bring them along, that is). Black Francis stood over thousands of adoring fans in his black suit, drowned out by dimmed lights and smoke machines. The suspense was overwhelming.
There is no way to describe the feeling that I had. I was overwhelmed and emotional all at once and I’m sure that I am not alone when I say that this concert moved me. This concert is likely to become the kind of event that becomes a thing of myth, of legend and one where you cherish the wrist band and band merch.
Wish you were there.
Until next time.