Review - The Pixies & Weezer @ Shoreline Amphitheater (8/7/18)

Ken McCain
Weezer (Photo: Ken McCain)
Weezer (Photo: Ken McCain)
It was an 80's and 90's musical flashback at the Shoreline Amphitheater this past Tuesday night for a double-bill featuring The Pixies & Weezer. And although the music was from a different era, it sounded as current and relevant as anything produced today; you might even say more so. While in between sets that evening, a group of us discussed the state of music. It seemed the consensus was that music made by those playing that night and those who preceded them would never be made that good ever again. The music itself is a product of the writer(s)/musician(s) and they are in part a product of their environment. Perhaps the result, lyrics and all, is lasting music formed from a simpler time, one with less pressure, more freedom, fewer selfies, and greater attention spans.
The Pixies' Black Francis & Paz Lenchantin (Photo: Ken McCain)
The Pixies' Black Francis & Paz Lenchantin (Photo: Ken McCain)
Both these bands have that lasting quality. The Pixies, a group formed in the early 80's was on the forefront of the modern rock scene. Channeling punk and new wave into a genre that spawned Nirvana, Radiohead, Weezer, and so many others. Weezer themselves were on the leading edge of the 90's modern rock scene. While the charts were seeing the top acts as Ace of Base, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, TLC, Madonna, and Boyz II Men through the end of 1995, Weezer's debut album got them into the mix with songs like "Buddy Holly", "My Name is Jonas", "Undone – The Sweater Song", and "Say It Ain't So". These songs took the listening world by force, gaining Weezer Billboard's US Modern Rock positions as high as #2 (Three of them in the top 10). It seemed that the world was ready for a new sound, one that mixed the punk and new wave with the rock and roll and hard edge that gets people excited. I mean, how much Mariah Carey can one really take? (Not that there's anything wrong with her.)
The Pixies' Paz Lenchantin (Photo: Ken McCain)
So the two acts, The Pixies and Weezer, were an excellent pair for a tour around the US. And stopping here in the SF Bay Area was a great chance to check out the two musical giants. I'm sure it is a thrill for Weezer to have The Pixies open for them. It might have been Rivers Cuomo's dream when he was forming the band in his parent's garage to tour one day with his heroes. If you have never heard of or have seen The Pixies live, and this was my first, they are a solid act. Like most of the bands from the 80's, they rely on a great deal of material from their earlier albums. In the gathering crowd I heard a lot of singing while the band played, saying to me that there were plenty of fans here for them as well as the headliner. Their songs are shorter than average, packing a big punch in every one, and they are able to hit the crowd with quite a few. Tuesday night they knocked out 21 songs, my favorite being "Here Comes Your Man".

Weezer was up next after a short intermission. The stage was rearranged with the curtain drawn. At precisely 9:40 a familiar sound clip from one of their videos began playing, the lights then dimmed, the curtain dropped, and the band began to bang out "Buddy Holly" in another seemingly familiar space. It wasn't quite 'Arnold's' from the Happy Days set, but the elements were similar. The crowd had reached it's near capacity, quite impressive on a Tuesday night in the Bay Area, and was roaring and singing along to every word. This lasted pretty much the entire evening as they went from one hit to another. A few favorites of mine were "Hash Pipe", "My Name Is Jonas", and "Africa". The last one was close to the end of the set. By now, most know that Weezer covered Toto's 1982 hit "Africa" along with "Rosanna" and did a smashing job of it. In turn, Toto has covered "Hash Pipe". It's a very cool exchange!
Weezer's Rivers Cuomo (Photo: Ken McCain)
The only slow point of the show came when Cuomo took to a boat (on wheels) and captained it to the center of the amphitheater. He disembarked and took to a small stage (B-stage) and played a few songs solo on the acoustic guitar. I maybe expected to hear "Island in the Sun" at that point, but following it with an acoustic version of A-ha's "Take On Me" blew me away. The crowd responded in kind singing the lyrics, as well as spontaneously singing the backup (or second part) lyrics. It was hard not to sing along!

Perhaps Weezer's songs are shorter than average, too. They played 20 songs that night, it all went way too fast. No extended versions, jam sessions, or 15 minute solos are part of their show . However, awesome tunes, a changing stage setup from 50's basement, to 80's rocker's lair, to modern day's full-on rock stage with pyrotechnics is! Yes, and the fire out of the large "W" logo alone is worth the price of admission.
Weezer's Rivers Cuomo (Photo: Ken McCain)
Only a few dates remain here in the US on their "Pacific Daydream" tour, so try to catch them if you can! If not, follow them on social media and keep up to date as they plan their next one. You are guaranteed a great night of music!

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Pixies Setlist Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, USA, North American Summer Tour 2018

Weezer Setlist Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, USA, North American Summer Tour 2018

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