Black Francis (aka Frank Black) made his way up to the Old Rock House stage with the crowd giving the Pixies lead singer a huge round of applause. In return, Frank Black treated the audience to lengthy set filled with solo material and the occasional Pixies nod.
This City of Takers opened the evening and there were elements to like, from Brandon Lee’s occasional snarl and guitar posturing (much to my camera’s delight) to David Mayhew looking like he got lost on the way to the Fleet Foxes show, but unfortunately the set as a whole felt like something was missing. Part of that was due to the normally four-piece group being reduced to a guitar duo for the evening, but even considering that, their loudest songs still felt like the two were holding back the sound. Maybe it was just me, but I was ready for TCoT to crank the volume to 10 and it seemed to just sit around 6 or 7.
There was an interesting informal and casual feel to Frank Black’s set, which was pretty neat to see considering his stature in the indie rock pantheon. He shared stories about his past stop in St. Louis with the Ramones (I had completely forgotten about the American Theater) and didn’t hesistate to mix in a fan-shouted song request (“Song of the Shrimp”). Even though it wasn’t quite the “acoustic” show as advertised, it certainly felt just as intimate. Eric Drew Feldman joined Frank onstage to play keyboard/bass, casually joining in jam session style even when kept uninformed of the song about to be played. As a novice Frank Black fan, I didn’t fully connect with the trip back through his solo catalog (I think “Six-Sixty-Six” and “I Heard Ramona Sing” were the only ones I recognized), but it was apparent how much the crowd of die-hards was enjoying it and hoping that he’d stop through the city and do this again.
The Good: Frank polling the crowd’s age demographic (mostly 30-40, with a surprising faction of young high schoolers up front). Starting the set with a cover of Tom Waits’ “Black Rider.”
The Bad: Blue/red lighting out in full force for Frank Black’s set. Sad how one bad egg really ruined the mood with obnoxious loud singing, even once singing a full measure of a chorus well before Frank had even started. A small circle of fans getting their shoes covered in beer and broken glass because of aforementioned bad egg.
The Irrelevant: Read some fun tropical noir in Hawaiian Dick v2: The Last Resort by B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin. Two huge jugs of water on the merch table to help combat the heat.