Black is back

By Jessica Garcia

Former Pixies front man Frank Black took the stage at one of
Hollywood’s grittier venues, Safari Sam’s, the night of Oct. 16.
Nestled in between a large 99-cent store and a former strip club on
Sunset Boulevard, the setting proved one undeniable thing to the
200 person crowd: a transformation was taking place.

“He’s playing with a broken finger!” cried Black, in reference
to his bassist Dan Schmid, a former member of the swing band Cherry
Poppin’ Daddies.

The vocalist’s pre-show announcement was met with an onslaught
of cheers from a heaving audience that included such high profile
friends as former Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’arcy Wretzky, actor
Vincent Gallo, and solo artist PJ Harvey.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., the lights dimmed and the singer
and his backing band, Schmid and drummer Jason Carter, delivered
the beginning of what Black described as “our 11-song opera.” The
bass line dropped, cymbals stirred, dimmed lights caused reason to
whisper, and suddenly the voice of a man once wild but now
restrained broke a roaring crowd with the new album’s title track,

Black explained the origin of the opening song as being a love
letter and homage to the late Herman Brood, an eccentric Dutch

rocker and painter who took his own life in 2001 by jumping off
the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton.

“Not all Hiltons are alike,” said Black. “Some of them don’t
wear skirts.”

The album’s title is a reference to the birthplace of Brood, the
Dutch city of Zwolle. The natives of Zwolle are endearingly called
Blauwvingers, or bluefingers.

In a recent press release, Black further explained the
foundation of his latest music effort.

“John Lennon and Yoko Ono claimed the Amsterdam Hilton in 1969,”
Black said. “The Pixies headlined their first big rock show

in Holland in 1988. Herman Brood reclaimed the Hilton for his
country in 2001 and now I feel he has even claimed back The Pixies,
or at least me, Black Francis.”

Frank Black, born Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, began
performing under the stage name Black Francis in 1985 when he first
joined the influential rock band The Pixies.

The moniker stuck and managed to supercede the band’s 1993 break
up, lending its use to a solo career and a later project, backing
band Frank Black and the Catholics.

One decade and close to 13 albums later, the Portland-born
genius, referred to simply as “C.T.” by those who know him well,
remains best-known by the rest of us as the voice behind the

The now-balding and slightly portly musician spoke with an
alarmingly calm and articulate air. The trio resumed with “Test
Pilot Blues” and “She Took the Money,” both off the new album.

Black made sure to extend a brief explanation before each song
to increase the crowd’s awareness. The singer exemplified a true
gift for connecting well with his audience.

The third-to-last song, “You Can’t Break a Heart and Have It,”
was a Herman Brood cover. Both “Tight Black Rubber” and “Threshold
Apprehension,” according to Black, were based on factual events
from his own life that also mirrored some in his muse’s.

As the evening came to an end, it was difficult to remember that
this fragile and exposed visionary on stage was in fact just
another human being who had an idea. This is a grown man widely
recognized in the music industry as a luminary in his own

Audience members flew in from out of state to gather in this
meek and dimly lit venue for one reason and one reason only.
Somewhere between the forums of chaos and expectations, a
revolution was born last week. Black Francis, my friends, is

Reach Jessica Garcia at

Black is back

Courtesy of

Black is back

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