When: Mon., June 15, 7 p.m. 2015
ROBERT PLANT, THE PIXIES | MONDAY, JUNE 15
KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE, CARY—It's surreal to remember a time when the Pixies seemed like an antidote to the arena-rock dinosaurs of the '70s. At their start, they were subversive and obscure, with songs that were short, sinister and certainly disdainful of indulgences like a 10-minute drum solo. They looked too weird to be bedroom-poster icons or anyone's first pop crush. It was a minor karmic tragedy, then, when pretty-boy Kurt Cobain, admiring vampire that he was, got huge off of quiet verses and loud choruses and opened the charts to all manner of sub-optimal Pixies rip-offs.
But over a decade into make-good oldies touring, no one really feels bad for Frank Black anymore. And now, with the Pixies opening for Robert Plant, the cultural distance between them and Led Zeppelin seems pretty narrow. Tolkien daydreaming may be traded out for UFO paranoia, but both acts are aged remnants from a time when rock ruled the earth.
Plant is, in theory, now touring his 2014 album, Lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar. A tastefully low-key collection of world music-tinged folk-rock, it was Plant's best reviewed set since his mid-'00s duets with Alison Krauss. But even touring with The Sensational Space Shifters, the band with whom he recorded the album, he's been giving spring festival crowds a string of Zeppelin favorites, with only a few new ones mixed into the setlist. Black and the Pixies take a similar tack, though they do seem more willing to highlight their most recent and most reviled material.
The key differences between the headlining and opening acts now are measures of scarcity and demand. Over the last decade, anyone in the relatively small pool of people who wanted to see Pixies material performed live and didn't reside in some isolated forest cave has had access. Zeppelin, however, are beloved by a much bigger group of ticket-buying boomers, as well as the grown kids who claimed '80s and '90s college rock but raided their folks' record collections, too. The surviving Led Zep lineup have been resistant to the full-blown Coachella comeback. "Dazed and Confused," done by the man and some dudes, will do. 7 p.m., $50–$80, 8003 Regency Pkwy., Cary, 919-462-2025, www.boothamphitheatre.com. —Jeff Klingman