Scenes from the Arts-Burgh

Article excerpt

As a founding members of the Pixies, it can be argued that Frank Black is the progenitor of modern alternative rock. His influence -- notably on Kurt Cobain of Nirvana -- transcends the popularity of his own work.

Friday at Mr. Small's Funhouse Theatre in Millvale, Black brought a crack four-piece band to the intimate venue, which should have been packed to the rafters. That it was only two-thirds full did not at all take away from the fervor of the audience, nor Black's performance.

Black began by playing four songs solo, notably "Los Angeles" and "Velouria," Pixies songs that benefited from the space provided by the acoustic performances.

With his band in tow -- notably featuring drummer Billy Block, bassist Eric Drew Feldman and Duane Jarvis on guitar -- Black raised the volume. Songs such as "All My Ghosts" and "Bullet" from his immense back catalog went over well, and "Six Sixty Six" was a slice of hell-bent rockabilly .

Selections from his new album, the rootsy "Fast Man, Raider Man," seemed particularly suited to the band, and Black may have saved the best for last: A haunting version of "Sing for Joy," which sounded like he was channeling the Velvet Underground. …