Pixies & Weezer brought the PUNK to Cuse

 

Alt-rock fixtures Pixies and Weezer recently performed a show at St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Syracuse. They were supported by The Wombats from Liverpool, England.

Pixies, formed in 1986 in Boston, took the stage for their set and unlike the evening’s headliner Weezer; Pixies didn’t spend time on anything that wasn’t actually playing a song. No chatting with the audience, no band introductions, no elaborate stage sets (although they did have a cool light show), just one cranking song into another. They burned through a 23 song set list of punk flavored alt-rock in just over an hour. The band is comprised of original members Black Francis on vocals, Joey Santiago on guitar, David Lovering on drums, and newest member Paz Lenchantin on bass.

Some of their classic tunes that they rocked included “Cactus,” “Gigantic,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Wave of Mutilation” and “Debaser.’ And of course they played the song that introduced them to a new generation of fans, “Where Is My Mind?” The song, first released in 1988, found new life in 1999 when it featured prominently in the film “Fight Club.”

Despite having most of their success in the ‘80s and ‘90s, people of all ages were there rocking out to Pixies. One man had come from Missouri to see them and said they were his favorite band. A couple was there with their young daughter, who got just as excited as her parents at every song they played (and she knew all the words).

Pixies played with purpose, and didn’t let down any of the fans in attendance. They influenced many bands that came after them, and it’s fitting that they are this tour since one of those bands they influenced was headliner Weezer.

Weezer opened the show with one of their biggest hits, “Buddy Holly.” The song, which came out in 1994, had a music video which depicted the band playing a show in Arnold’s restaurant from the TV show “Happy Days.” So of course, the stage set was a recreation of Arnold’s restaurant complete with booths and big neon “W.” Front man Rivers Cuomo even wore his outfit from that video, a tan, V-neck; button up sweater with red and black striped tie.

The “Happy Days” aesthetic stayed up for a while as the band tore through a very front loaded set list of their biggest hits. “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Hash Pipe” and “Perfect Situation” closed out the first part of the show.

All the pieces of the Arnold’s set then starting disappearing, as they were slid off stage or hoisted into the stage house. It was simultaneously replaced with a set that looked like the interior of a garage, a popular starting point for many rock bands, along with a homemade looking version of a lit up “W”. An actor, apparently portraying Cuomo’s dad, then came out on stage and threw a laundry basket on the floor at his feet. He grabbed Cuomo’s sweater and completely tore it off his body. This revealed a red t-shirt with a jagged white stripe across the top, just like the one he wore in the video for “Undone – The Sweater Song.” Everyone in the audience started cheering.

They started this de facto act two with “My Name is Jonas,” “El Scorcho” and the theme of this part of the show “In the Garage.” An audience member in the front row then yelled out a request for the song “Susanne.” Cuomo reassured the man that they would get to it, that they should “trust in the Weeze!” Cuomo then looked down at his set list and laughed, realizing that “Susanne” was indeed the next song on the list. They finished the garage act of the show with a cover of The Turtles hit from 1967 “Happy Together” and “Keep Fishin’.”

At the end of the garage set, Cuomo donned a white captain’s hat and jacket, hopped on a razor scooter, and started kicking his way off stage onto the walkways along the edge of the amphitheater. With security personnel clearing a path, he worked his way up to the walkway that runs between the 200 and 300 sections of reserved seating where what looked like a tiny ship was waiting. It indeed was a tiny ship. Decked out in captain’s garb, he climbed aboard and ‘sailed’ through the audience to the middle of the venue. Aboard the tiny ship-stage, he did a quick two song set facing up toward the people in the lawn section. He did acoustic solo versions of “Island in the Sun” and “Take On Me”, a cover of the a-ha classic from 1985.

Cuomo then continued ‘sailing’ toward the other side of the amphitheater where he again boarded a razor scooter and rode back to the stage, which had again changed set design while no one was looking. It now had an industrial look, with metal frame work and amber lights and a much slicker looking “W” than the garage version. Cuomo also changed outfits again, this time wearing a Nirvana shirt with cutoff sleeves and a bandana.

After “Burndt Jamb” and “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You to” they wrapped up the main set with two recent hits. First was 2017’s “Feels Like Summer.” The stage set included pyrotechnics for the first time with huge, precisely timed flamethrowers. Also, the bass on this particular song was enough to rattle your soul. They finished with their most recent hit, a cover of the Toto classic “Africa.”

After a short break, the band came back out for an encore. No set change this time, just a few more catchy tunes. “The Good Life” and “Say it Ain’t So” wrapped the evening … almost. Before taking their bows and leaving the stage, they broke into a snippet of “Paranoid” by the godfathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath. As they walked off stage everyone in the audience was throwing up the “W” symbol with their hands.

Both Pixies and Weezer put on a great night of music. The two bands complimented each other, with the more dark and brooding style of the former or the lighter pop-rock of the latter. Their joint tour continues across the U.S. through the middle of August.

 

 

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James Suits Photography / The Fuze Magazine

 

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