Words & Photos by Alan Snodgrass
After last year’s tour, the unlikely pairing of Pixies and Weezer apparently missed each other because they’re back together and bigger than ever, including a stop at Coachella.
Basement kicked the evening off in the unenviable 7 pm-on-a-Wednesday-night-playing-to-an-empty-arena time slot. But by the time Pixies took the stage at a still-early 7:45, the house was packed. And good thing too, because the band, fronted by a jovial Black Francis, proceeded to deliver a flawless hour long set that not only hit the classics but introduced the crowd to a slew of new material.
Standing in sharp contrast to Pixies’ no-nonsense set, Weezer kicked things off on a small platform in front of the curtained-off stage with a barbershop quartet version of “Beverly Hills,” the whole band resplendent in the appropriate attire. From their, the band made a mad dash to the stage while changing clothes as the “Happy Days” intro music played and the curtain dropped revealing the band.
Weezer has been busy of late, having dropped not one, but two albums including a full release of covers that surprisingly played a more prominent role on the setlist than their “Black Album” of originals. So when frontman Rivers Cuomo asked the Oakland crows, “is it too early for a trip to Africa?” the answer was a resounding “no!”
The Weezer crew should get a special shout-out for working literally non-stop to continuously transform the stage through the 90 minute set, not to mention pushing Cuomo in a boat to the back of the arena while he jammed Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” where, upon arriving, he proceeded into a a capella version of “Stand By Me” while a crew member literally sprinted from backstage with an acoustic guitar to replace his non-functioning one. Totally ridiculous but the crowd ate it up.
A bit of a surprise came at the end of the set when legendary drummer Josh Freese joined the band for “Hashpipe” as flames spewed around him. There could not have been a better way to wrap things up before the encore which ended with “Say It Ain’t So.” To boil it down, you’ve got four supremely talented dudes who inexplicably chose to use their gifts to create nerd rock. Respect.
Once again, Pixies and Weezer have made their unlikely pairing pay off in spades.