Finding a parking spot on East Carson Street in Pittsburgh on a Saturday evening is not easy, but - after double checking with a friendly police officer in the Starbucks we leave our vehicle in front of - we manage. Only a block from the venue and we take our time. It's only 8:10 and doors were at 7 - accounting for the opening band, we've probably still got a solid half hour until the Breeders take the stage.
However, as we walk up to the doors of Diesel and pull out our IDs, I hear it - "New Year". Fuck, they've started and the bouncer is telling me he won't accept my enhanced New York State drivers license. "Enhanced - what's that all about? We get a lot of these that are fakes down here." Even if it was a fake, do I look like I'm under 21? If so, thanks and get your glasses checked. We finally convince him and get our tickets scanned on the way in just as "New Year" finishes. I round the corner to the stage and am confused - there's Kim and Kelley [looking very slim these days, I might add] and Cheryl From Florida and Jose...but who's that on bass? It's certainly not Mando...is it? No it can't be.
"AWOOOOOO-oooh." "Cannonball" almost immediately - uh-oh, this isn't often early in the set, how much of the show did we miss? All these years and hears later - and there have been plenty of both - it is still a monster of a song and I still love hearing it live thankyouverymuch. By the way, did Kim just call the woman on bass "Josephine"? No way...
"Kelley will sing this next one" so it is, of course, "I Just Wanna Get Along". Score! Missing from the "Mountain Battles" warm up show I saw, it was a very welcome return. Plus, I've a total thing for Kelley. Three 'Last Splash' songs in a row - I'm certainly not complaining, but...odd.
"Ready to start this next one, Josephine?" No fucking way, I heard that wrong. And the next one is....."Do You Love Me Now?" Seriously? Stunning.
The 'Last Splash' run can't go on forever...so we'll break it to visit 'Pod' for a bit. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "Iris" and "Fortunately Gone" all follow in quick succession, all awesome. Maybe I didn't miss as much as I thought I did...and what is going on with Josephine/Not Josephine? [There's no way it can be...right?]
She ducks away for a bit and Kelley takes the bass. Hrm, where are we going with this one? A snare drum is brought out from behind the wall of amps. Oh nice, "The She" returns! But wait...Kim usually plays a full set for that one and this is only one drum. Maybe the economy has affected even "The She". Or maybe...
...oh, yes. "Hoverin'". Are you shitting me? In my mind, my dream-Breeders-set-list doesn't even contain it because it seems so impossible to make an appearance, but here it is. And it is, for sure, the highlight of the show and worth entry price alone. "We get high on our music", indeed. I'm gone on this one. 'Title TK' does get a rep next, though, with a crushing "Little Fury". So good.
"Ready?" "Ready." It takes a minute to sink in because it doesn't seem possible, but we're back to 'Pacer' and it's....."I Am Decided". No. Fucking. Way.
"I can either play bass good, or sing good. Which one do you want?" This is why I love Kelley.
"Both." This is why I love Kim.
"Alright...we'll give it a go."
"Now I lie to get by..." The 'Pacer' run finishes with the lovely title track, always welcome. Time for some more instrument switching - Kelley back to guitar, Cheryl From Florida onto bass and Jose doctors his drums for the sole 'Mountain Battles' track of the evening - that I see, anyways - "Bang On". Nice choice. I love you, girls, never you worry - and tonight I love you more than ever.
"I'll try not to go to fast for you," Kim says to Cheryl From Florida as she TEARS into 'Huffer'. Done in 90-seconds flat, I'm sure, and what a minute-and-a-half.
"This worked out in rehearsal, so we'll see what happens." Josephine/Not Josephine comes back to the bass, Cheryl From Florida goes and naps for a minute and Kelley has three sheets of paper for this one. What the hell could it be? Kelley and "Josephine" swap spots so the potential imposter has a mic. OK, so maybe it is Josephine, because it is - dun dun dun - "Metal" fucking "Man". Really? Incredible. Another one you'd never dare dream to hear, but there it is. Someone in the back is prepping the violin. Is it time for...
No, but "Safari" comes out to play in all of it's extreme-noise-freak-out glory. Now? Nope - but how about a riff-tastic "Saints"? At this point, I have my usual Breeders concert thought of: "I can't believe it takes all of these people to play these somewhat simple-in-terms-of-complexity songs." Then I realize: yes, you need five people to properly gives "Saints" all of the attention it needs - it's not as simple as you think.
"Thanks for coming, guys!" No wait...well, obviously we've got at least one song for an encore. Sadly, one song is all we end up getting. But what a song. "Kelley can't play the violin, but she can play this song. It's weird." This is why I love Kim and Kelley. "Drivin' on 9", of course. Always welcome, but - and a very small but - kind of an anti-climactic last-song-of-the-evening kind of song.
So, what just happened? Was Josephine Wiggs just on stage with the Breeders? The set list sure suggests it - only three songs post-1996. If you have to refresh yourself quickly, it would make sense to do so on songs you already know. I purposely avoided any tour spoilers so that doesn't help. Bryan just saw them a few nights previous in NYC, I'm sure he would've mentioned something.
Turns out Mando's girlfriend was about to give birth so they called in a favor from our good friend Josephine Wiggs to fill in for the rest of the tour - past the NYC shows. [Though apparently Carrie Bradley was at those so they got to hear "Oh!". I'm fine with that - it really is the one Breeders song I could do without.]
As if that wasn't enough, they have one shirt for sale this evening - a Tammy and the Amps shirt.
If I missed anything, I don't even care. Looking back, I don't see "Tipp City" or "Divine Hammer" and they don't usually stay home for the night. Also, with the return of Josephine should come - I imagine - the return of "Head To Toe", but I've heard that one before too. If I missed "Doe" I'd be kind of miffed, but other than that the night was so perfect it doesn't even matter if it was incomplete.
I almost skipped out on this tour. So close to missing the show of a lifetime. Come out again soon, girls. I already miss you.