The Breeders refuse to live in the past at First Ave

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The Breeders onstage at the Xcel Energy Center in October 2017. Star Tribune

When’s the last time someone referred to Kim and Kelly of the Breeders as “The Real Deal?”

Can we do that here? Because I’m practically a professional reviewer of nostalgia acts at this point, but the Breeders, more than any other revival act I’ve seen in the past several months, actually seem like a real band. Or as much like a real band as they ever did, anyway.

Last night, the Deal sisters and bandmates handed their packed, loyal, mostly aging crowd a 23-song show at First Avenue that was marked by, well, some modicum of real Deal-ness. The low-energy but competent performance gave almost equal time to their latest record, All Nerve, as it did their best known hits of their alternative heyday.

But here’s the risk you take: Getting the good of the Breeders means accepting the bad of the Breeders. Yes, their great new album is a compelling argument for why they transcend ’90s Gen-X reunion-act status better than many of their peers. (Maybe even including the Pixies.)

But that doesn’t excuse a two-decade plus habit of quietly farting around between songs that superfans might find charming but feels like slow momentum-killing torture for the rest of us, as if Kim wanted everyone to be uncomfortably aware of how hot and stinky the Mainroom floor was.

Still, when the band was playing, they played, charging through new and old, if not always hitting on all cylinders. “Cannonball” was surprisingly downplayed, almost demure, as if the band didn’t want to put too much effort into their breakthrough hit. “Gigantic,” unsurprisingly, was better than when the Pixies play “Gigantic.” (You win that one too, Kim.)

The Breeders have never been the most precise band, and there were moments of slop. But they were tighter than they were 25 years ago. (Let’s assume healthier living has something to do with that). And their new material probably drew their best performances from them, as if they were saying, “Look, we’re still a real band. We’re actually releasing music. We don’t give as much of a shit about 25 years ago as we did then, and you shouldn’t either.”

Setlist
New Year
Wait in the Car
All Nerve
No Aloha
Divine Hammer
Huffer
Glorious
Howl at the Summit
Safari
Spacewoman
Drivin' on 9 (Ed's Redeeming Qualities cover)
Walking with a Killer
Fortunately Gone
S.O.S.
Off You
I Just Wanna Get Along
Cannonball
Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Beatles cover)
Skinhead #2
MetaGoth
Gigantic (Pixies cover)

Encore
Saints
Nervous Mary
Do You Love Me Now?


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