Indie rock giants The Breeders stopped by the Observatory in North Park to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1993 platinum album, “Last Splash.”
A fully sold-out, jam-packed venue was filled with fans more than eager to share their Breeders stories. I heard from quite a few that they had seen the band multiple times, and even a couple who had seen this entire tour as their own anniversary celebration since they met at a Breeders concert. There were many unique stories and while memories do fade, a badass bass line apparently does not – we could all remember exactly the moment we first heard “Cannonball” and its iconic bass line. But while “Cannonball” was the radio hit that grabbed everyone’s attention, the entire album is one of those rare treasures that deserve to be heard from beginning to end.
“Last Splash” is one of those stand out albums that fits nowhere, and at the same time belongs everywhere. It fluidly bends genre lines; it is effervescent and grounded, experimental and meticulously arranged. Noisy and beautifully melodic.
There aren’t many albums that are so layered and as versatile as this one. I honestly do not think I could name an album that even comes close, and to be able to see it performed live was one of those rare and beautiful opportunities I could not pass up.
I did have concerns though – 30 years later, could the band perform it with the freshness and rawness needed to project its magnitude to fans? However, knowing the band would be performing with the original album lineup was a huge relief. While the band endured a few lineup changes over the years, these four musicians – Kim Deal (vocals, guitar), Josephine Wiggs (bass), Kelley Deal (guitar), and Jim Macpherson (drums) – shared such an unprecedented chemistry, it was just not possible to recreate.
All of my fears were quickly proven unsubstantiated as the band captured the audience immediately with the first notes of “New Year,” and never let go until the house lights were illuminated at the end of the evening.
The band as a whole seemed perfectly at ease onstage and with one another; their energy spilled over into the audience, creating a warm hangout-like atmosphere. In fact, there were moments when fans’ vocals took over from the band. A further testament to the greatness of the album – and a simple reminder to radio stations that there are 15 songs on this album, just in case they would like to offer “Cannonball” a much-needed rest.
A powerhouse of a song, “Invisible Man” was performed beautifully. The Deals’ guitars decadently layered, the culminating crescendos of Macpherson’s drums enriched by the intense bass lines of Wiggs.
“No Aloha” was another favorite of mine, thanks to the combination of ethereal vocals and heavy guitar riffs, lightened by random, almost psychedelic moments that keep you on your toes.
“Do You Love Me Now?” was another great moment where everyone seemed to be held captive by the song’s hypnotic bass line. Then “Flipside” was in almost stark contrast as it offered a more lively moment that got everyone’s feet moving. The lightness continued through “I Just Wanna Get Along.”
There were no dull moments, no filler songs, no unnecessary fluffs. It was just an incredible band, performing an amazing album, in its entirety, and a whole extra set. The additional songs brought my personal joy courtesy of a cover of the Pixies’ “Gigantic,” followed by “Wait in the Car” and “Walking With a Killer.”
The Breeders also gave us a cover of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” from The Beatles and “When I Was a Painter” with help from Tanya Donelly of Belly, who had opened the evening.
It was truly a phenomenal night that just proved nothing is more timeless than a great album.