Concert Reviews

Weezer and Pixies at Budweiser Stage

Photos by Randall Vasquez.

Every time I don’t think I’m old, I refer to the CDs and – sigh – CASSETTES I grew up with and how a lot of them are coming up on things like silver anniversaries. For those of you who don’t have to worry about wedding gifts for your significant others, that is 25 years. Take Weezer’s self-titled “Blue Album” debut as an example, quite possibly my all-time favourite when all is said and done. It’s celebrating its quarter-century milestone next May (2019). It came at a pretty dark period in music and the world at large; Kurt Cobain died by suicide the month previous, and the parents of a lot of depressed kids were starting to worry themselves following a bit of a boom period, albeit with high unemployment. Then along came this bouncy, guitar-driven 10-track collection from Nirvana’s DGC labelmates reminding everyone not to take anything too seriously and have a little fun in the process.

As hokey a formula as it is, it’s one that’s worked for Weezer all this time later and more importantly, it is something they’ve embraced and send out towards a fan base that can easily pack a venue such as Toronto’s 16,000 capacity Budweiser Stage to forget their troubles in the face of some pretty messed up stuff going on these days…if only for 70 or so minutes, about the same running time as the Mix CDs I used to burn.

OK, enough about nostalgia. This is easier said than done however when it’s thrown in your face from the get-go. Any frustration I may have been feeling from traffic congestion caused by the Indy being in town coupled with out-of-service streetcars quickly dissipated once the =w=eez came out with a backdrop made to look like Arnold’s diner from Happy Days, which is of course the setting to their video for “Buddy Holly”.

From there it was a nonstop rollercoaster down memory lane of songs you’ve heard countless times on what are those things called again? Ah yes, the radio! “Beverly Hills”, “Pork and Beans” and “Perfect Situation” were all present and accounted for. And yes, in case you’re wondering they DID bless the rains with their not-so-new version of Toto’s “Africa” after geek rock god Rivers Cuomo acoustically covered “Magic” by B.o.B. (which he co-wrote) as well as a-ha classic “Take on Me”.

Co-headlining this summer 2018 tour with Weezer are Pixies, although astute students of music history such as myself will call attention to the fact they did something remarkably similar in 2005, already a lifetime ago in some wet behind the ears punks’ eyes. At the same Toronto waterfront venue even! Black Francis can still belt out the hits that never-quite-were hits, whether Kim Deal is part of the band or not. Highlights included “Monkey Gone to Heaven”, “Planet of Sound” and “Debaser”, not to mention their frantic interpretation of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On”, which frankly I didn’t think they played live anymore. It was my first opportunity to see Deal replacement Paz Lenchantin perform on “Gigantic”, and she passed with flying colours while making herself to look like a younger Buffy Sainte-Marie.

I also found there were a surprising number of cuts from latest release Head Carrier, which just goes to show Pixies’ continued influence. Kurt Cobain certainly borrowed from the band’s loud-quiet style, which carried on to Weezer and up-and-coming artists to this very day. June 14th was unfortunately the only Canadian stop for this double-shot of alt-rock, but Pixies aren’t ready yet to be put out to the pasture. Weezer? Pfft, that’s a given they’ll be back!

About author

Gilles LeBlanc literally fell into “alternative rock” way back at Lollapalooza 1992, where he got caught in his first mosh pit watching some band named Pearl Jam. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his life looking for music to match the liberating rush he felt that day, with a particular chest-beating emphasis on stuff coming out of his native Canada. You can follow his alter ego on Twitter: @ROCKthusiast.