The most compelling scene in the Pixies documentary loudQUIETloud doesn't involve the Pixies at all.
It's an interview with two young female fans who were small children during the Pixies' original years together (1986-92). They're asked: "How were you introduced to this band?" With starry-eyed smiles, they describe a coming-of-age novel they read (Brave New Girl) in which the protagonist is obsessed with the Pixies.
One of the two young women adds that she plays bass in a Pixies cover band. That leads to this follow-up question: "So you would be the Kim Deal of the band?"
Her reply: "No, that's not a good way to put it. Kim Deal, she's like superior to most other people. She's like my god - how could I even begin to compare myself to her?"
loudQUIETloud might have been a great film had it explored the idea of rock band as communal fantasy played out by artists and fans who don't individually measure up to their collective mystique. Instead, the movie wallows in the band members' tiresome personal problems during a 2004 reunion tour.
The real Kim Deal is a nervous wreck unable to cope without a cigarette or a nonalcoholic brew. Drummer David Lovering is caught up in his own Valium addiction throughout the tour. Guitarist Joey Santiago struggles with guilt over being away from his family. Frontman Charles Thompson (a.k.a "Black Francis," "Frank Black") bemoans a musical career that can't escape the Pixies' shadow.
The producers apparently thought it would be cool to make a documentary about the Pixies' reunion tour, but didn't give any thought to what the film would actually be about.
While not every band documentary needs to tell a universal story, loudQUIETloud fails a more basic test. It doesn't provide interesting insights about the Pixies' music or attempt to describe how the artists' personal qualities shaped that music.
The focus is tabloid-level dramas. In one scene, Lovering's substance abuse makes him erratic in performance. We watch him freak out at the end of one song and refuse to stop playing his drums. Fans and the band look on uncomfortably. In an interview following the incident, Santiago warns that Thompson will have to have a serious talk with Lovering about this.
Should we care? Sadly, loudQUIETloud makes the Pixies look petty and small.