Call me late to the party, but last night I fell in love with Weezer.
Don’t get me wrong, I always liked the band. But when they dropped their self-titled first record, my inner geek was busy munching on a rigid diet of early '90s lo-fi, bands like Pavement, Sebadoh, and Guided By Voices. Those groups were on the lighter side of my tastes, but they had a more obvious grit that satisfied the angsty, post-hardcore me.
If the band armed themselves with a clear goal for this tour, beyond playing killer versions of their super-hooky tunes, it was to throw a good-mood blanket over an already excited crowd.
Even before Weezer hit the stage, shenanigans were spilling out from behind the curtain while their stage was getting set up. Clouds of fake fog were rising as we caught glimpses of paper fights and festive fuckery. Their stage setup had a few different looks, including the nostalgia-inducing diner from the "Buddy Holly" video (cribbed from Happy Days), followed by a rock-poster-laden garage paying tribute to '80s hard rockers like AC/DC and Judas Priest.
“Buddy Holly” was the tune that led their 20-song set, and while those campy backdrops might not have been necessary, they certainly lent themselves to keeping the spirited mood on high as the band blasted through a slew of faves with precision. “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” and “El Scorcho” were all present and accounted for.
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No one was sad when frontman Rivers Cuomo slapped on a captain’s hat and jacket and jumped off the stage and onto a scooter to wheel to a spot between the reserved seats and the lawn to play “Island in the Sun.” As if that didn’t already charm the fuck out of everyone, he cranked it up a notch by playing a spot-on and charming version of the 1980s classic “Take On Me” by A-Ha.
And while we’re talking about covers, yes, they played their cover of “Africa” by Toto that you’ve either heard or heard about by now. It was pretty damn good. With the A-Ha song, Cuomo proved his high-range vocal abilities, and that didn’t falter with “Africa,” either. He was a little warbly on the lower notes but overall, the song, just like their whole stint, rocked.
I’m sorry I didn’t give these guys as much of a chance back in the day, but I’m with you now, Weezer, and I’ll definitely be back for more.
Unlike Weezer, the Pixies always had my heart. It was a life-changing moment the second I walked into a friend’s apartment and Surfer Rosa was blaring. I never looked back.
When you feel like that about a band, it’s hard to have a bad time seeing them live. That was true last night: They were certainly fucking great, at times relentless – just like I expected, exactly as I wanted.
Frank Black’s voice might not have had the breadth last night that it can, or has had previously, and it might have been extra throaty, but that only helped deliver the savagery present in songs like “Vamos” and “Caribou." Joey Santiago’s guitar was wicked – he even played the instrument with his hat, which was kind of silly yet impressive. The drums were pounding, and newest member Paz Lenchantin’s bass boomed.
So, where am I going here? Down the obvious road. I miss Kim Deal.
It’s hard for me to love the Pixies as much as I want to these days without her presence. Lenchantin’s got a great voice, and on its own, it can definitely exemplify the sweet and ethereal nature of Deal’s. But when she and Black sing together, something is left to be desired. With Black and Deal, their vocal union created a piercing, spine-snapping sonic flavor that solidified the band’s magic.
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Still, with laser focus and little fanfare – zero addressing the crowd save for a group bow at the end – the Pixies slayed, offering their masterful intensity so skillfully that made Weezer a perfect fit to flip the script.
Weezer Set List:
Happy Days Intro
Pork and Beans
Undone (The Sweater Song)
My Name is Jonas
In the Garage
The Good Life
Happy Together [Turtles cover]
Island in the Sun
Take On Me [A-Ha cover]
(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
Feels Like Summer
Africa [Toto cover]
Surf Wax America
Say It Ain’t So
Pixies Set List:
Wave of Mutilation
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Isla de Encanta
Planet of Sound
All the Saints
Here Comes Your Man
Where Is My Mind?
Winterlong [Neil Young cover]
All I Think About Now