The Pixies and Weezer
Oracle Arena, Oakland
April 10, 2019
Photos by Elizabeth Gohr
One of the most anticipated tours of the spring came to Oracle Arena on Wednesday night as Weezer and The Pixies came through on their highly successful co-headlining tour.
Weezer took the stage after The Pixies and they brought down the sold-out crowd at Oracle, delivering an electric set that contained plenty of new songs from their recently released self-titled covers album. Before opening the set proper, the band emerged on a small platform at the base of the stage to perform a barbershop quartet version of their hit song “Beverley Hills,” with each band member dressed in the appropriate barbershop outfit.
After that, the band began their set in earnest with the rocking “Buddy Holly,” a blistering slice of alternative rock that reverberated through the walls of the arena. The band seemed determined to show that even after 25 years of performing across the world, they were still on top of their game. With an impressive stage design that morphed and changed throughout the set, it was hard not to get caught up in the spectacle. After a few songs, a crew of stagehands changed the stage set, swapping out the 50s diner (a nod to the “Buddy Holly” music video) for a garage, which seemed appropriate considering the cover songs that were to follow.
Frontman Rivers Cuomo asked the audience if it was early enough in the set for them to go to Africa, as the band began to play the 80s pop hit of the same name by Toto. The song has been a funny internet meme for many years and it was the subject of a large-scale social media campaign a few years ago as fans lobbied for the band to cover it. While the idea of an alternative rock band like Weezer covering a cheesy 80s song might sound silly, the band did a fantastic job of making the song their own.
A few songs later, Weezer took on another 80s classic in the form of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Once again, the band delivered an impressive rendition of the song. The biggest surprise of the night was coming just a few songs later. As Rivers Cuomo got into a makeshift boat on wheels, the band tore through a blazing cover of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, with guitarist Brian Bell taking on the lead vocals for the song. The boat worked its way around the outside of the floor area until it came to a stop at the back of the floor.
Cuomo was supposed to have an acoustic guitar ready to play a song, however the guitar did not work, so he improvised by singing an acapella version of the classic “Stand by Me.” Only, he wasn’t the only one singing as most of the 12,000 people in the audience began to sing with him. It was an impressive bit of improvisation that made the night even more memorable. As Cuomo made his way back to the stage in his boat, the rest of the band began playing an instrumental version of the Jane’s Addiction song “Up the Beach” until Cuomo came back on stage and strapped his guitar back on just in time for the band to rip through an inspired version of “Beverly Hills.” A couple of songs later, Weezer closed out the main portion of their set with a smoking rendition of “Hash Pipe,” which featured drummer Pat Wilson taking on guitar duties as Josh Freese (Weezer, A Perfect Circle, Sting) came on stage to play drums. With Freese playing at warp speed and thrashing about the drum kit, the band seemed to hit another level of brilliance.
After a brief break, the band returned to perform a two song encore, closing the night with one of their best known songs, the legendary “Say It Ain’t So.” Anchored by a slinky bit of rhythm guitar work from Bell and a slithering bassline from Scott Shriner, the song got some of the biggest crowd involvement of the night, with seemingly everyone in the audience singing along to the song’s memorable chorus.
Like any great rock band of yesteryear, Weezer have mastered the art of epic live performances, combining plenty of bombast along with a fun and humorous approach to their music. With such a winning combination, it was hard to not get wrapped up in the moment.
The Pixies brought plenty of firepower of their own, churning out song after song and ripping through a 23-track set spanning their entire career. Beginning with the classic “Cactus” from the legendary Surfer Rosa album, the band was locked in from the start, with the snappy drumming of Joey Santiago and the sharp guitar riffs of Black Francis giving each song a solid foundation.
The band has been changing up their setlist on each date of the tour and this time was no exception as they pulled out a stunning version of their most well-known song very early on in the set in the form of “Where Is My Mind?” With an angular and dissonant lead guitar line from David Lovering, along with some powerful vocals from Francis, the song seemed to fill every little crevice of the area with its bombastic sound.
A big surprise came in the form of a rocking cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain song “Head On,” which came near the back end of the band’s set. The Pixies closed out their set with a blazing rendition of their classic song “Gigantic,” which featured an impressive bass performance from Paz Lenchantin, who also took on the lead vocals for the tune.
Setlist: Beverly Hills (barbershop quartet version) | Buddy Holly | My Name Is Jonas | Africa (Toto cover) | Pork and Beans | El Scorcho | Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears cover) | Undone – The Sweater Song | Can’t Knock the Hustle | Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover) | Stand by Me (Ben E. King cover) (Rivers solo acoustic) | Up the Beach (Jane’s Addiction cover) | Beverly Hills | Pink Triangle | Thank God for Girls | Island in the Sun | No Scrubs (TLC cover) | Hash Pipe (with Josh Freese on drums, Pat Wilson on guitar) || Encore || Perfect Situation | Say It Ain’t So
Find out more about Weezer here.
Setlist: Cactus | Nimrod’s Son | Where Is My Mind? | All the Saints | Ana | Here Comes Your Man | Death Horizon | Blown Away | The Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain | Bird of Prey | Mr. Grieves | Catfish Kate | This Is My Fate | Gouge Away | Bone Machine | Debaser | Wave of Mutilation | Graveyard Hill | Monkey Gone to Heaven | Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover) | Saint Nazaire | Vamos | Gigantic]
Check out The Pixies on their website.