Live Review: The Breeders, Screaming Females, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 20, 2023

Thirty years on, experiencing the Breeders’ Last Splash in its entirety is pure joy.

There’s Kim Deal’s raspy, off-kilter yet on-target phrasing and warm rhythm guitar, as well as her frequent check-ins to make sure everyone’s feeling fine and having fun; sister Kelley’s bouncy riffage and good-natured teasing; drummer Jim MacPherson’s inventive percussion and bubble machine; and Josephine Wiggs’ reserved cool and pulse-quickening bass. And when MacPherson and Wiggs swapped instruments for “Roi” with the addition of the bubble machine, the glee went up a few notches and felt like it’d never come down.

Giddiness pervaded their show at the Fillmore, where I might’ve recognized several dozen faces in the crowd—if only I could have looked away from the stage and my cocoon of pals pressed up against the rail. From the highs of “No Aloha,” “I Just Wanna Get Along” and “Do You Love Me Now?” to the heights of “Saints,” “Divine Hammer” and “Cannonball,” songs from the three-decade-old album sounded fresh and fantastic, and the only thing anyone could have wanted more is another burst from the bubble machine during the set-ending “Roi (Reprise).”

For an encore, the Breeders played three songs apiece from their first and last albums, with 1990’s Pod yielding fan favorites “Doe,” “When I Was a Painter,” and (best of all) “Iris,” and 2018’s All Nerve represented by “Wait In The Car,” “Nervous Mary” and the taut “Walking With A Killer.”

Screaming Females, as awesome as ever, opened the show with a short, sharp set of songs drawn from this year’s powerful Desire Pathways (“Brass Bell,” “Mourning Dove,” “Desert Train” and “Let Me Into Your Heart”) and earlier albums, with Rose Mountain’s “Wishing Well” a particular highlight.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich

Screaming Females