Weezer's Rivers Cuomo - photo by Russell Kershaw
Right from the get go Weezer aimed to please by indulging in their own peculiar whimsy. While Basement and the Pixies both took the straight for the throat mode, with particularly sinister lunacy permeating Pixies’s set thanks to Joey Santiago’s frenzied guitar barrages and Frank Black’s rapturous sunstroke vocals, it was all fun and games for Weezer. Opening their jam-packed hour-plus set dressed in pinstripes for a barbershop quartet rendition of, “Pork and Beans,” the band hardly left a moment for anyone to catch their breath.
A band from the nineties, Weezer’s long-standing reputation filled the Madison Alliant Energy Center with an energetic demographic who spent elementary school bopping to, “Buddy Holly, ” only to party ten years later to, “Beverly Hills.” Another ten years and here we are revisiting those multiple golden years with post-ironic, nostalgia-addled, “Africa,” whose pinnacle solo was impressively slayed by Rivers Cuomo on a synth-driven guitar. Quite a few families attended, their exposure to these hits no doubt marked stages in their lives; proms, first jobs, kids. Hiding among the young, a small contingency of Weezer and Pixies fans who actually grew up in the nineties, rounded out the numbers. “Say It AIn’t So,” indeed.
From t-shirt guns to flame-shooting flashpots, disco balls and music-video backdrops, Weezer pulled out the big guns for the big hits, while somehow making the entire process seem intimate. Whether coaching thousand-strong sing-alongs or embarking on a four-wheeled boat to play to the back seats, Rivers courted collaborative happiness in a sea of camera flashlights that echoed the night’s shower of sparks pouring on stage as a fitting pyrotechnic finale for a band that spreads cheeky, cheery, wise-guy brightness. In contrast, the stronger than ever Pixies weren’t looking for new recruits. Between the non-existent chat between songs, blinding lights and mechanical proficiency, the band pitched howling alt-rock punches with desert-punk crunch that challenged rather than engaged with a freight-train display of cathartic heart attacks whose execution was a thing of beauty.
Stadium-worthy Indulgences from both camps made this time-warped Sunday a memorable entry in anyone’s rock ‘n roll bucket list.