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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

One More Splash: A Review of the Breeders’ Anniversary Tour

Courtesy+Ben+Stas
Courtesy Ben Stas

“Check, check, check, one, two.”

The distorted voice of the intro to The Breeders’ hit song “Cannonball” rang through the venue. The audience went silent, anticipating the iconic bass line, as the band commenced with the opening chords and the crowd cheered.

The indie rock band took the stage at House of Blues on Sept. 24th, one of the many stops on tour for the 30th anniversary of their album “Last Splash.”

The band showcases impeccable harmonies, rich bass tones, and a versatile blend of sounds—all within this one album. Songs like “New Year” have an indie-pop feel, while tracks such as “S.O.S” follow a punk structure. “No Aloha” even incorporates guitar licks and drums reminiscent of surf rock. The tour features the original lineup that recorded the album: sisters Kim and Kelley Deal on vocals and guitar, Jim Macpherson on drums, and Josephine Wiggs on bass.

While the original band’s turbulent history of addiction and infighting resulted in the many different lineups in the albums that followed “Last Splash,” they reconciled in 2018 to record the album “All Nerve.” On September 22nd, the band released a remastered version of the album, which featured an unreleased vault track, “Go Man Go.”

In celebration of the album’s anniversary and the remastered edition, the band provided a unique concert experience: they performed the entire album in original track order. Fans were thrilled to get to hear the beloved record live.

“Hearing the entirety of Last Splash was amazing,” said MassArt sophomore Cameron Peak. “The pit was crazy, and seeing everybody jumping around really made me happy.”

The show also featured a second set of some of the Breeders’ popular tracks not featured on the album, much to the fans’ excitement.

“My favorite part was during the encore when they pulled out ‘Safari.’ That’s one of my favorite songs by them, and I wasn’t expecting to hear it on this tour,” said Peak.

Vocalist and guitarist Kim Deal of Pixies fame was a true highlight of the performance. An icon of the early indie scene, her arrival on stage was met with enormous cheers from the audience. The second set featured  other popular Breeders’ tracks as well as the Pixies’ song “Gigantic.” Upon Deal’s departure from the Pixies, the audience was particularly excited to hear the music performed with its original vocalist and to see Deal play bass, her primary instrument in her old band.

While the band is often associated with the grunge and post-punk scene, which many Breeders songs fit stylistically, Deal’s beautiful, breathy soprano voice transcends one genre in songs like “New Year” and “Safari.” Her versatility as a singer lends itself to the band’s more melodically complex, almost ballad-like slow songs and the contrasting angry yell and fast pace of songs associated with the rock subgenres. This variety of vocal stylings left the audience jumping up and down and peacefully swaying back and forth at different points in the show, providing a miraculously seamless transition between songs and styles.

Throughout the concert, Breeders proved themselves to be masters of musicianship, with all members switching instruments at one point or another during the performance, just as they do in the original record.

The Breeders continued experimenting with their sound, adding to older songs and giving them new life. The band added a violinist to the lineup for this tour, an instrument not typically represented in rock bands. While this may seem like an odd addition, the high-pitched vibrations from the instrument gave the band a fuller, well-balanced sound and shared some of the band’s slow songs. An engaging folk tone, particularly in their cover of the band Ed’s Redeeming Qualities’ “Drivin’ on 9.”

In addition to their vast technical skill, it was evident that the band takes delight in performing and cares about their fans through the smiles on their faces while they played and their multiple check-ins with the crowd throughout the show. Students from across Boston came together to see the band and share their excitement.

“My favorite part [of the show] was how the artists checked in on us to make sure we were all comfortable and having a good time,” said Boston University freshman Allison Kim. “It was nice to see how [the band members] were real people who love to perform and appreciate their audience.”

The Breeders’ evident joy on stage transcended to their audience, who enthusiastically danced and sang along to every song.

The crowd, composed of fans of all ages, demonstrated the band’s timeless appeal. While “Last Splash” was initially released in 1993, the crowd consisted of as many teenagers and college students who have loved the album for 30 years. The band’s upcoming gig further emphasizes the band’s younger audience as the opening act for 20-year-old pop artist Olivia Rodrigo on her forthcoming “GUTS” album tour at her shows in New York City and Los Angeles.

The band’s energetic stage presence and vast talent on their instruments made for a highly entertaining and enjoyable concert, and fans look forward to seeing what the band will do next.

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