After seven weeks of tour dates, Weezer and Pixies ended their co-headlining North American summer tour with career-spanning sets at Ak-Chin Pavilion Sunday, August 12. New York-based noise-pop group Sleigh Bells provided support for the two long-running alternative rock bands.
Though fans of each headliner were present at the outdoor amphitheater, which was shadowed by the approaching monsoon, the two bands’ sets were very different.
Pixies kept things simple, and the act’s misson was clear: perform the songs, and perform them well. Though the band members did not interact with the crowd, they didn’t have to, as they delivered 22 songs of pure Pixies energy.
After kicking off with the triple threat of “Gouge Away,” “Wave of Mutilation” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” Pixies’ set encompassed a variety of the band’s songs – famed and new, catchy and manic.
Throughout the band’s performance, other classics like “Gigantic,” “Here Comes Your Man” and “Where Is My Mind?” were of course delivered, along with faster cuts like “Crackity Jones” and “Isla de Encanta.” Pixies also performed a few selections from its more recent albums, Indie Cindy and Head Carrier, leaving the 1990 album Bossanova as the set’s main notable omission.
At one point, the band revisited its cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong,” while later on, the set concluded with the Doolittle standouts “Hey” and “Debaser” before leaving the crowd to await Weezer’s arrival.
Though the Black Francis-fronted band has been performing for over three decades, it hasn’t lost its energy. Francis’ wild screamed vocals are still powerful, and the band’s musicianship searing, with guitarist Joey Santiago at one point performing “Vamos’” guitar solo with his fedora.
Though their set wasn’t as flashy as the Weezer performance that would follow, Francis, Santiago, David Lovering and Paz Lenchantin remained true to their beloved and influential songs, giving fans exactly what they could ask for in a Pixies set.
Weezer’s set, in contrast, was more elaborate, kicking off with a performance of “Buddy Holly” in a recreation of Arnold’s Drive-In from the Happy Days-inspired music video of the same song. As the band reached the final chorus, confetti was launched into the crowd via cannon. The band then took it forward to the mid-to-late 2000s hits “Beverly Hills” and “Pork and Beans” before rewinding to “Undone – The Sweater Song” and “Hash Pipe.”
After “Perfect Situation,” the Arnold’s Drive-In set was converted into a garage, foreshadowing a song they would perform a bit later (“In the Garage”). Costume changes were incorporated, too, with vocalist/guitarist Rivers Cuomo trading his sweater for a jersey during the stage setup change. Other essential cuts worked into the setlist included “My Name Is Jonas” and “El Scorcho.”
The members of Weezer aren’t ones to take themselves too seriously, though, as is apparent by the humor in the set. Throughout the show, Cuomo brought a sense of silliness through his expressions, banter and mannerisms.
The group covered The Turtles’ hit song “Happy Together,” which Cuomo had mistakenly announced early while his bandmates started to play “The Good Life” one song prior. In the middle of “Happy Together,” a memorable bassline came to prominence – it was “Longview.” Following a brief detour into the Green Day classic and a resumed “Happy Together,” Cuomo changed into a sailor outfit and rode a scooter into the crowd while his bandmates jammed “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.
From his new position on a stage in the middle of the crowd, Cuomo performed solo acoustic renditions of “Island in the Sun” and a-ha’s ’80s classic “Take on Me” while fans lit up the venue with phone lights at his insistence.
His bandmates played him back to a once again redesigned main stage with “Burndt Jamb.” With Cuomo now donning a sleeveless Nirvana tee, the band performed the 2010s songs “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and “Feels Like Summer.” The staging was even more elaborate, with large lighting rigs and pyrotechnics. To conclude, the band made an obvious choice given a recent surprisingly successful fan campaign: cover Toto’s “Africa.”
An encore performance brought the band back out for two final Blue Album cuts, “Surf Wax America” and “Say It Ain’t So,” topped off with pyrotechnics and raining sparklers, and even a brief cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”
Though Weezer’s and Pixies’ sets were very different in some respects, the two performances gave fans the best of both worlds, surely pleasing fans in both aisles.
While Weezer and Pixies may have been the stars of the show, Sleigh Bells’ set was not one to dismiss. The New York band opened the show with its 2017 Kid Kruschev EP cut “Blue Trash Mattress Fire.” Though the set was short and sweet, it was equally powerful. The noise-pop group’s trademark blaring guitars and pummeling sequenced drums dispersed throughout the amphitheater as its members performed a variety of songs both new and old. Though other recent tracks like “Rainmaker” also impressed, “Riot Rhythm” and “Infinity Guitars” – from the band’s 2010 debut album, Treats – were obvious standouts. The band concluded with “Crown on the Ground.”
Setlist – Pixies
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
Setlist – Weezer
Pork and Beans
Undone – The Sweater Song
My Name is Jonas
In the Garage
The Good Life
Happy Together / Longview / Billie Jean (The Turtles, Green Day and Michael Jackson medley)
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 / Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)
Photos by Kimberly Carrillo