Rock Me Joe: An Awkward Pixies Moment

The Pixies truly are one of the GREATEST examples of how to tastefully reunite as a band while trying not to sell out. They play the hits. They make new music. They tour frequently.

In my book, they “cashed in” with the upmost integrity. I never get tired of seeing them live. There is no better feeling at a live show than a setlist where you are gonna know almost every song on a deep, intimate level.

To coincided with the 30th anniversary of their legendary EP and LP Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa, The Pixies released, Come on Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.

It’s a “Three LP edition with new artwork reimagined by original designer Vaughan Oliver and the bonus disc, Live From The Fallout Shelter - one of the earliest recordings of the band, a radio concert that first aired in late 1986 on WJUL-FM in Lowell, MA.”

The next step in the usual tired, cliche reunited band cycle is to tour on one of their iconic albums on its anniversary, and play the whole thing in it’s entirety. The Pixies are no strangers to this ritual, but unlike other bands, they do it with class and consideration.

When they play Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa in their entirety, they replicate the dialogue on Surfer and make sure to play a stellar mini set of B-Sides that no fan in one thousand years would ever think they would get the chance to hear live like: Build High, Dance the Manta Ray, Rock a My Soul, and the Purple Tape version of Down to the Well.

That is what I call considerate!

My moment as an awkward Pixies cringe lord.


Rich and I walk up the sidewalk to Brooklyn Steel when I see him. Off to the side, is a bald gentleman in a cabbie hat smoking a cigarette in the cold. He faces the brick wall of the venue. He clearly doesn’t want to be noticed.

I grab Rich’s arm and SQUEEZE as to prevent any verbal expression that would draw attention to who I know it is… One of my ALL TIME guitar heroes . <GASP>

Joey Alberto Santiago. A man whose music I have worshiped for the last 14 years, since that first time I played Doolittle in the tape deck of my ‘94 Toyota Camry, stands before me. He is a magician that can make his guitar speak in a shrieking, tortured, wailing, emotional musical language that compliments the obtuse, subversive, abstract lyrical poetry, and the raw, focused, primal screaming of Black Francis.

Rich understands the squeeze and takes a hard turn with me. In the 7 times I’ve seen the band since 2005, I have never been fortunate enough to see a Pixie outside of the green room/tour bus/back stage in the wild.

Executive decisions have to be made in a matter of precious seconds. It is my ONE CHANCE to talk to a hero of mine. I would regret it forever if I didn’t try. I go for it.

He turns and sees this DERP(me) standing before him. I assess the situation.

The weather report is not good.

(My appraisal of) his face says, “Dude- I’m so just trying to smoke a quick cigarette right now without anyone noticing me so that I can go back inside where it is warm. I gotta play in 30 minutes. Please don’t bother me.”

I really don’t blame him at all. Like any good smoker who can’t smoke inside, it is never too cold to go out and have a cigarette.

A valuable lesson that I’ve learned when meeting people of note: It is important to realize that your special one moment in time with them is just one of a million of their seconds. Who knows how they are feeling in that day, hour, minute, etc? Don’t take it personally.

At this point, I kinda wish I could abort the mission, but it is too late to retreat.

My legs carry me towards him as my brain sends signals to my mouth piece to speak. My mouth opens and nothing comes out. I have NOTHING to say. I ask my closest companion, my Brain to send me stuff to say. As die hard fan, there is million things to say, and Brain doesn’t send me any of them. Maybe that is a good thing?

He waits for me to talk. Brain scrambles to put a sentence together. He sends me the wrong sentence, “Thank you so much for a great show.” Stupid Brain!

My tongue, the unsung hero, catches it before it can leave my mouth. Cunning Tongue!

Instead, I say, “Looking forward to a great show tonight.” Or some variation of that… Joey nods. I think he says, “Thanks.” I can’t really tell because I know I have already fucked this up.

I walk away. Joey smokes on, not being noticed.

I die, as I try to deconstruct this exchange that probably lasted all of 30 seconds?

During the show, in between moments of musical ecstasy, I think about what I could of (or should of) said. As I write this, I think I should have walked up right behind him while he was making out with the brick wall and whispered, “Rock me Joe,” and just continue on nonchalantly. I don’t really know. It would have made for a much better story than this one. What would you have said?

I still feel like a derp thinking about this. I will remember it forever.

Sorry I bothered you Joey, thank you so much for a great show.