The Breeders return to Minneapolis

Paul Sand

The last time the Breeders released an album, Britney Spears was 12-years-old, Kurt Cobain was still alive and MTV played more than five videos a day. But Wednesday night, thanks in part to Kim Deal’s knack for writing timeless little ditties, they still sounded relevant in front of a sold-out crowd at the 400 Bar.

After nearly nine years of rehab and side-projects, the Breeders opened their first Minneapolis show in over half a decade with little more then a smile from each Deal sister. Backed by their new and incredibly tight rhythm section, they launched into a shortened “No Aloha” and didn’t quit until they had covered their bases, from 1990’s Pod to the forthcoming Steve Albini-produced Title TK.

The latest to traipse through Deal’s revolving personnel door includes Richard Presley on guitar, Mondo Lopez on bass (both formerly of the L.A. punk band Fear) and drummer Jose Medeles, formerly of 22 Jacks. The new guys provided some added punch and muscle, especially on older material. Medeles’ vital drumming drove the steady “Tipp City” and the psycho two-step “Full on Idle,” both from Kim’s side-project The Amps.

Although there were some sour notes and a flubbed beginning by Kim’s twin sister, Kelley, on the surf-guitar instrumental “Flipside,” she replicated the standard Deal pared-down lead parts perfectly. She even politely shrugged off requests for “Canyon,” a song from her post-rehab St. Paul band The Kelley Deal 6000.

While some have suggested that Presley’s role on guitar is to cover for Kelley lack of talent, throughout this show she did little to suggest she needed the help while firming locking in with the new rhythm section.

The new Title TK tracks sounded more like Pod‘s, complete with bouncy basslines, saccharine harmonies and structures much simpler than those on Last Splash. “Son of 3,” the new album’s single, found Kim singing unaided from either Kelley or Lopez, while all three chugged through the chords. Elsewhere the new songs showed signs of regression, with Kim and Kelley trading many harmonies, some carefully placed ‘da, da, da’s‘ and constant grins. It was refreshing to see a band enjoy itself on stage, especially with new, untested material.

It takes the guts that only Kim and company have to treat their only hit song, “Cannonball,” like any other. Instead of saving it for the end, to keep the audience wondering, “will they or won’t they play it?”, the tune was unceremoniously dropped mid-set, beginning simply with Kim doing the ‘ah-oo’s‘ through her second, distorted mic. The song hopped and twitched-just as one would remember it-but strangely didn’t get the ‘bring down the house’ reaction one would expect. The crowd seemed more enamored with other Last Splash treats like “I Just Wanna Get Along” with Kelley on lead vocals, and the bright, set-closing “Divine Hammer.”