Weezer and Pixies Give Alt 101 Crash Course at Xfinity Center/Mansfield,MA (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Torrential rain, thunder, lightning and flash floods could not deter the faithful followers of Los Angeles’ Weezer and local Boston-legends, Pixies, at their recent show at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield,MA on July 17th. Despite the weather and a mid-week show, the Xfinity center was for the most part, filled to the gills with the bands’ fans – eager to listen to the bands’ nostalgic hits, deep cuts and some more recent offerings. The co-headlining bill offered plenty of reason to trudge through the puddles and the mud to rock and to roll with close to 20,000 like-minded music lovers. Special guests, Sleigh Bells, warmed up the crowd with their own brand of noise pop that featured the duo’s unique and in-your-face on-stage musical chaos.

After a pre-recorded snippet of the Beatles’ “You Know My Name” wrapped up playing through the house PA, rows of bright lights hit the audience, straight in the face, from behind the stage. A monstrous cloud of smoke billowed out from behind the drum kit and from either side of the stage. Silhouettes of Frank Black (vox/guitar), Joey Santiago (guitar), David Lovering (drums) and Paz Lenchantin (bass/vox) sauntered through the haze. They gave a brief wave and/or smile towards the crowd, before launching in to the merciless “U-Mass” – which one can only assume was a nod to performing once again in their home-state. Intentional or not, the song sent the Pixies’ fans into a tizzy. The live staple and fan-favorite “Wave of Mutilation” followed before the band whipped out a surprise, the saucy “Um Chagga Lagga” from 2016’s Head Carrier, which continued to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

The Pixies were off to a hot start and wasted little time between songs with any kind of pointless banter. Other highlights from the first half of the set included “Caribou”, “Gouge Away”, “Monkey Gone to Heaven” which found Black under a white-hot spotlight throughout the song. Lenchantin was hit with the spotlight as she beautifully accompanied Black during the chorus. The lighting continued to be brilliantly choreographed with the music as all lights went red during the “And the devil is six” rant. The band softened the mood a tad with “Classic Masher” and “Euphrates”. Black and Lenchantin followed by trading jabs during the mellow, but biting “Hey”.

During the second half of the show, the band impressed with “Gigantic”, which let Lenchantin shine as she took on lead vocals through the classic rocker. Her voice was as infectious as her smile and the red flower that adorned the headstock of her road-worn bass guitar. The jam that ensued at the end was glorious. “Cactus”, which was later covered by David Bowie live and on his album Heathen, was stellar. The song, and performance, was as prickly as ever. The creative lighting, if one was paying attention, only added to the effect. Individual green lights shown from behind the stage, were surrounded by smaller white lights that emulated the thorns on a cactus tree. The playful “Here Come Your Man” pushed everyone into the time machine and sent us back to 1989 for a few minutes to enjoy their hit from their second album Dolittle – before the sleepy reprise of “Mutilation”.

Lenchantin and the crowd received another chance to sing in unison, as they howled together during the introspective “Where Is My Mind”. Black’s voice bounced from laid back to his signature aggressive attack. Santiago’s guitar solo slowly built, adding obvious tension before the climax. “Vamos” provided Santiago with an opportunity to get creative with the exposed end of his guitar lead. Touching different parts of his body, gear and even his hat – he captured the attention of the crowd with his anti-guitar solo, solo. After a minute or two of molesting his guitar and gear, Santiago gave a flippant wave to the sky and a huge grin to his bandmates and fans. The Spanish-juggernaut could have ended the set with a bang – however, a somber cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong” lovingly wrapped up the 20+ song set. And, with another set of smiles and waves – the band left the stage to a standing ovation.

After a short respite, it was time for Weezer to grace the stage. A stage-wide black curtain hung between the band and the audience. The audio introduction for the set was lifted right from the band’s official video for “Buddy Holly”. After Arnold’s schtick, the curtain dropped – leaving no barrier between the band and the audience. A carnival-style replica backdrop of Arnold’s restaurant covered the stage. Though hokey, it brought smiles and laps around the theater. And naturally, Rivers Cuomo (vox/guitar), Brian Bell (guitar/keys), Scott Shriner (bass) and Pat Wilson (drums) played the part and tore into the 1994 hit, “Buddy Holly”. Cashmere sweater, horned-rimmed glasses and all, Cuomo played the part as he chugged away on his sticker-laden Strat. After a round of applause as the song ended, the lights went out for a few seconds. Wilson counted in “Beverly Hills”. As the lights reappeared, Bell affixed his talk-box and strutted around his side of the stage with his gold Explorer during the sarcastic rocker. Bell’s talk-box solo led to a mini-joint-solo between him and Cuomo. Weezer packed a left and a right hook for their choice of how they’d start the set. “Pork and Beans” provided ample opportunity for the audience to engage with the band as they sang through the chorus together.

“Undone” led off more key moments from the “main stage” portion of the set. Through a haze of fog, the band relentlessly drove through a raw take of the hit, complete with pre-recorded dialog found on the album. Shriner plugged away on his bass, with attitude as he helped sing the accents at the end of the song. For “Hash Pipe”, Cuomo, Bell and Shriner riffed together before Cuomo chimed in with his falsetto intro lead. The Bright lights that had originally blanketed the set, had now gone to red – altering the atmosphere and state of mind for both the audience and the band.

After “Perfect Situation”, the band led into another fan-favorite, “My Name Is Jonas”. After a comical wardrobe change, Cuomo dug deep for angst-driven anthem. Bell swayed and grooved with his axe like a ballroom dancer as Weezer were clearly hitting their stride with one hit after another. Cuomo then invited fans to join him for a ride in a time machine (sorry for the redundancy) to go back to the 60’s for an amped-up version of the Turtles “Happy Together”. Towards the end of the song, Cuomo was observed throwing on a ship captain’s hat and coat.

After a Bell took over lead vocals for “Keep Fishin’”, Cuomo appeared on a secondary stage to perform “Island In The Sun” and a cover of the 80’s hit “Take On Me” by A-Ha. It was a great effort to reach the audience who was halfway to nowhere from the stage and for the poor sods who were out in the elements without a roof. Cuomo returned to the stage for “Surf Wax”, “Feels Like Summer” and the interesting recent viral hit, a cover of Toto’s “Africa” complete with an orchestrated keyboard guitar solo – which was sublime and a great way to end the set. But, there was more.

After a short spell, with the curtain raised once again and blue light swirling from above – Weezer returned for an encore that began with the eclectic “The Good Life”. Cuomo and Co. kept their fans enthralled with the roller-coaster ride rocker. Then, without much fan fair, Cuomo plucked the jangly chords of the actual finale, “Say It Ain’t So. Cuomo and the audience sang together, word for word throughout the song – while Cuomo playfully engaged with members in the front row. Flares sparkled down to the stage as the song ended. The giant electric Weezer logo, lit the back of the stage in a hot yellow, as the band convened at center stage to take a bow.

And, as all good things must come to an end – so did this show. From the energetic and frenetic set of Sleigh Bells, the impressive and hypnotic set from the Pixies and the fun-loving and rollicking set from Weezer – a good time was had by all on this beautifully packaged event. All bands put forth 100% of their efforts to bring a “more bang for your buck” event that will be hard-pressed to match. Whether you’re interested in nostalgic rock to hang with your college buddies or as a way to introduce great music to a friend or family member, this might be the show for you.

 

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