Black Francis Recalls Radiohead Refusing To Play After Pixies

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Pixies frontman Black Francis recently spoke to NME for a quiz about his long-term music career and reflected on Coachella 2004, where Radiohead refused to headline since they didn’t want Pixies to open for them.

Coachella 2004 was so important in many ways, filled with plenty of defining moments. The headline featured many prominent acts like Radiohead, Pixies, Kraftwerk, the Cure, and the Flaming Lips. The festival was highly significant for Pixies because it was one of their first performances following a reunion after nearly a decade of breakup.

At the time, Radiohead had already consolidated its place in the rock scene as one of the most successful bands with their best-selling records. However, they refused to headline above Pixies at the California concert since they thought Pixies should have been the top band on the bill. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke described the situation as ‘going on after the Beatles.’

In the quiz with NME, Pixies members were asked at which festival that incident had occurred. While Black Francis guessed it wrong by saying Pukkelpop, the band’s drummer David Lovering got it right by saying Coachella. Then, Francis said Radiohead made a kind gesture, but they didn’t owe them anything. Still, the singer feels grateful for the flattering compliment.

Then, Lovering also continued by saying that they didn’t feel like the Beatles at the festival, but the eyes were on them because they had just reunited. It was a remarkable moment in their career because they had introduced themselves to a new audience. Those young music lovers were there to hear their music and get inspiration.

When asked about which festival Radiohead refused to play after Pixies, Black Francis replied:

“Pukkelpop?”

David Lovering’s answer:

Coachella?

Francis continued:

“That was nice of Radiohead, but they certainly didn’t owe it to us in any way. They’ve done quite well for themselves, so they didn’t need our help! But I appreciate the compliment.”

Lovering then said:

“We didn’t feel like the Beatles at Coachella, but I remember thinking that our lore had grown since we’d been away and reformed, and it was memorable because the audience had changed after 10/11 years away. There were young kids there who weren’t even born when we were initially a band, and it was the first time of thinking there’s a generation of fans who’ve heard other bands reference us that are now coming to check us out.”

When Radiohead first made that statement about refusing to play after Pixies, it was misinterpreted by some people and caused Radiohead to face backlash. Then, Thom Yorke explained that they didn’t want to be disrespectful to Pixies and didn’t want to upset them. They just thought the reunited Pixies deserved to be the top band on the bill.