Frank Black Rocks the Sunset Strip

Pixies Frontman Rocks the House of Blues in L.A.

It’s embarassing to admit now that I’m initiated, but I’m a
Frank Black
neophyte. Sure, in high school I had friends who’d gush about The
Pixies’ stuff, but it wasn’t until after college that I started to
notice the frequency with which the Pixies’ frontman would come
through Santa Barbara with his Catholics band. He’d be at Velvet
Jones (or its various predecessors) or Rocks on a Thursday night,
but I never managed to check out those shows either. (Well, at
least I don’t remember going to them….)


It wasn’t until the notoriously don’t-get-along members of The
Pixies decided to reunite a couple years ago and come through the
Santa Barbara Bowl that I really tuned in. And even then, my fandom
was auxiliary, a way to connect with friends who were Pixies
fanatics and the necessary result of solidly original and good
music. (I still have an image from the Bowl show on my cell phone,
which is to say that the show made quite a lasting impression.)


And then Honeycomb came along, a mellow album from a
Frank Black who got kidnapped by Nashville. The heartfelt,
brilliant tunes became my new soundtrack, and even my friends who
loved his old stuff were quick fans of the album. The songs never
got old, no matter how much I listened, and to this day they still
tower above the double-disc Fastman Raiderman that came later.
Honeycomb opened me up to the rest of Black’s catalog, and
now all his songs seem sacrosanct.

Which brings me to last Friday night at the House of Blues on
the Sunset Strip in sunny L.A. That’s where I stood right next to
the stage, my shirt wobbling from the nearby speakers, watching
what my more experienced friends would later proclaim the best
Frank Black show ever.


Even I knew things were off to a good start when the pot-bellied
screecher came out alone and began with “Los Angeles,” pronouncing
the city’s name with the hard “g” that so many non-Californians
like to use. With references to “pouring sun” and wanting to live
there, Black captivated the audience, which overall seemed like
they didn’t know what to expect, many just in the club for
something to do on a Friday night. A young mother would later tell
me outside, after calling her child’s babysitter and telling the
non-English-speaking woman that she’d be home late, that she had
hoped Black would do the song later. But even she agreed it was a
fitting start.

The black-on-black Black, whom the young mother also noted was
quite slimmer these days, continued solo for a few hits, including
“Wave of Mutilation” and one off of Honeycomb. Then out
came his bassman Eric Drew Feldman, guitarist Duane Jarvis, and
drummer Billy Block, who he all introduced politely before they
started playing. Their first song was Tom Waits’ “Black Rider,” and
from there they simply lit the place on fire. We heard “I Burn
Today,” “Dog in the Sand,” and “I’m Not Dead (I’m in Pittsburgh)”
among many others.


He played for what seemed to be a solid two hours straight, not
even retreating before the encore, which kept the energy powerful
and almost overbearing. By night’s end, even those who had wandered
in just for a fun Friday night were hooked on Frank Black. It was a
thoroughly perfect way to spend a weekend evening, and some of the
best live music on the planet at that moment. Please, oh please
Frank Black, come back to Santa Barbara.

(Photos by Joanna Yates)


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.