San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Pixies and Modest Mouse light up Gallagher Square: A night of alternative mastery

The iconic acts took the stage, blending timeless tracks with unexpected moments for a captivated crowd
Sam Hockaday
Joey Santiago, the lead guitarist for the Pixies, prepares to strike his guitar at Gallagher Square in Petco Park on Sep. 16, 2023.

Under a San Diego sky at Gallagher Square in Petco Park, the night of Sept.16 resonated with the unmistakable sounds of three influential alternative music acts: the Pixies, Modest Mouse and Cat Power.

For those discovering the iconic Pixies for the first time, the evening served as an unforgettable introduction. With a stellar lineup beside them, they showcased their North American tour at the Sycuan Stage at 100 Park Blvd.

San Diego represented the penultimate stop of the Pixies’ tour, making the night special for the band and their dedicated fans alike. Adding to the event’s magnetism, Modest Mouse, a mainstay in the alternative scene, co-headlined.

Isaac Brock, the frontman for Modest Mouse, plays the guitar at Gallagher Square in Petco Park on Sep. 16, 2023. (Sam Hockaday)

The joint tour began in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on Aug. 20, with their stop in San Diego taking place on Sept. 16, and concluded at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 17, spanning 22 stops in total.

As dusk set in and LED lights illuminated the trees in Gallagher Square, a fitting atmosphere was established for the night’s performances. The park exuded a laid-back, chill ambiance, allowing the crowd to relax and soak in the music.

Chan Marshall, who goes by stage name “Cat Power,” got the evening started with a transformative cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” — a rendition she’s been known for since her “Covers” album. 

Continuing on with the set list, Marshall performed standout tracks such as “The Greatest,” “New York, New York” and “The Moon.” Marshall delivered her set with precision and emotion, impressing the early crowd.

As the venue approached capacity, Modest Mouse’s frontman, Isaac Brock, donned a Padres jersey, marking his front-running role for the evening.

Their well-curated setlist showcased a mix of their expansive discography. Highlights included tracks from “The Moon & Antarctica” such as “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “3rd Planet.” They also delighted fans with hits from other albums, including the ever-popular “Float On” from “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” and deep cuts like “Dramamine” and “King Rat.”

Ending on a powerful note with “S— Luck”, their performance underscored Modest Mouse’s enduring charisma and the potency of their live show.

Senior Bella Havens, an English major , spoke about it being her second time seeing Modest Mouse and praised hearing favorites from “The Moon & Antarctica,” while also appreciating the set’s ambiance and lighting.

By the time the Pixies took the stage, the crowd was ecstatic and ready.

David Lovering sits at the drums while Black Francis, the frontman for the Pixies, plays guitar and sings at Gallagher Square in Petco Park on Sep. 16, 2023. (Sam Hockaday)

The Pixies, known for their penchant for the unexpected, kicked off their set with the gripping “Gouge Away.” The energy soared as they dived into classics like “Wave of Mutilation,” which they cleverly reprised later in their performance, providing a sense of continuity.

With an eclectic mix from their extensive discography, they showcased tracks such as “Caribou,” the anthemic “Nimrod’s Son” and “Bone Machine.” Their set underscored the band’s smooth mood transitions, from “The Holiday Song” to the rawness of “Planet of Sound,” to their cover of “Head On” by The Jesus and Mary Chain, and culminating with the crowd singing along to “Here Comes Your Man.”

And with the final chords of “Where Is My Mind?” that might have typically echoed throughout the outdoor venue, the Pixies surprised many with a resonant cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.”

Having come primarily to see both the Pixies and Modest Mouse, Lexi Anderson, a senior communication major, expressed awe after the show, singling out “Wave of Mutilation” as her favorite live song. Anderson felt a deeper connection when she spotted the Pixies’ lead guitarist, Joey Santiago, sporting an SDSU T-shirt on stage.

At the end of the show, it was clear they had taken the audience on a memorable journey through their storied career. 

This sentiment was echoed by Karina Yasmine, a junior philosophy major, who emphasized the sense of unity the music fostered and appreciation for Petco Park’s layout, specifically noting the hill’s advantage for better views during larger performances.

Up Next at Gallagher Square: Just a short journey from SDSU, the venue will host the “Wet Hot All-American Summer Tour” on Oct. 6 with The All-American Rejects, New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, The Starting Line and The Get Up Kids.

About the Contributors
Ryan Kehl, Staff Writer
Raised in North Philadelphia, Ryan is a senior majoring in journalism with an emphasis in advertising. He recently completed a copywriting internship at Motive and served as vice president of public affairs on the Professional Studies and Fine Arts College Council. His interests include "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Meek Mill, "Rocky," and "Elden Ring," along with cheesesteak egg rolls and soft pretzels.
Sam Hockaday
Sam Hockaday, '23-24 Arts & Culture Editor