Pixies Weezer “Let’s play a game,” I said to my boyfriend as we hiked from our car to will-call at USANA Wednesday night. “When people pass, we’ll guess if they’re here for the Pixies or Weezer.” It seemed like a simple enough task. The dudes in converse shoes and baseball jerseys? They were Weezer fans. The girls with lip piercings and wearing all black? They were there for the Pixies. The dad with the teenage kid? That’s one for Pixies, one for Weezer. Easy.
Of course, I was there only for the Pixies and confused by the double-billing. After all, the bands couldn’t be more different. Kurt Cobain said he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in an effort to rip-off the Pixies. Weezer writes pop hits about sweaters. David Bowie counted the Pixies among his favorite bands. Weezer is played at frat houses (I’m just guessing that, but if they aren’t, they totally should be.). I will, at least, admit that I’m not an unbiased source here.
And so, with that bias, I say this: I was disheartened to learn that Francis Black and the rest of the Pixies were taking the stage first. Shouldn’t Weezer pay deference to the greats? With little fanfare, and a barebones set, The Pixies walked up and just started playing. And they played and they played. While people were still taking their seats. While some of the people in the crowd seemed to not even know they were in the presence of greatness, they still played.
I get it, I guess. Black Francis doesn’t look like a rock star. And the rest of the band could easily pass as faculty at any given middle school in America. But, my goodness, can they play. But, it wasn’t until “Where is My Mind” that asses finally got out of chairs. (Thanks Fight Club.)
Conversely, all the asses were out of all of the chairs for all of Weezer’s set.
And the differences went on from there. A decorated stage made to look like a high schooler’s garage hangout, complete with pennants on the wall, only lasted half the set before a more conventional rock ’n’ roll stage was constructed for Weezer. There was no intro music for the Pixies, in fact they never never even introduced themselves, but Weezer came on to the theme to Happy Days and frontman Rivers Cuomo made himself at home in the crowd—quite literally—when he camped out in front of the sound booth for a two-song acoustic jam.
For the Pixies it was one-mostly-recognizable-song-after-another for their full 23 song set. For Weezer, every song they played had some degree of radio play. The Pixies only played their own songs—three of Weezer’s 20 tunes were covers and even more mixed in familiar tunes from Green Day and Black Sabbath.
The Pixies replaced long-time bass player Kim Deal with the equally amazing Paz Lenchantin to provide a much-needed shot of estrogen onstage, while Weezer was perfectly content to bro-out—like they’re just some dudes playing the same music they have since 1994, OK? Cuomo even had wardrobe changes mid-set—Black not-just-a-clever-name Francis wore all black, all show, obviously.
But here’s the part I didn’t expect: All the people at USANA—all the ones I’d assumed were seeing the Pixies and not Weezer—all the hardcore girls and the dudes with tattoos—all of them were singing every word to every Weezer song.
Even the dopey one about the sweater. Say it ain’t so.
Read more of Salt Lake magazine’s music coverage here.