It was amazing to see 13,500 like-minded music fans getting their indie-rock on at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto this past Saturday! Undeterred by the lack of accessibility thanks to the 2018 Honda Indy (a yearly event that essentially smothers parking around the venue) fans turned out in droves to see two of the very finest bands to emerge from the mid-1980s/early 1990s alternative scene. With the most expensive tickets remaining under the $100 mark, this show was an opportunity to see two amazing bands performing on a single stage at a reasonable price.
Weezer, formed in 1992, has the more prolific amount of commercially-released albums under their belt, with eleven studio releases currently available (and a twelfth to be released at any time now). Pixies, who formed in 1986, have only six studio albums, the shortage in output largely due to a band break-up between 1992 and 2003. Most recently, Pixies have released Indie Cindy (2014) and Head Carrier (2016) and continue to tour their material in earnest.
A total Pixies classic, watch the “Debaser” video here.
After a short set from The Wombats, Pixies took the stage at around 8:00pm and blasted their way through 21 songs, touching on every album from their incredible catalogue of material. Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago and bassist Paz Lenchantin (replacing Kim Deal, she’s been with the band now for over three years and seems to be a permanent fixture) delivered an intense set together. If there is such a thing as a bad Pixies show, I’ve yet to see it. It was business as usual for the band - delivering awesome live music. Songs new and old came off seamlessly this evening, with fans in the crowd singing along during numerous tracks.
Stand-outs this evening were “U-Mass,” “Wave of Mutilation,” “Caribou,” “Gouge Away,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Gigantic,” “Head On,” “Tame,” “Debaser,” “Planet of Sound,” and the illustrious “Where Is My Mind?,” arguably the Pixies most well-known track. At this point, the Pixies have been re-formed as a band for almost twice as long as they were before they imploded in 1992. They sound as vital and relevant as they did back in their early days - a feat few bands can either boast or replicate. It was a genuine treat to see them again. This was my first time seeing Paz Lenchantin perform as a Pixies member and she easily knocked it out of the park.
How can you NOT love Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”?
A black curtain obscured the front of Budweiser Stage as the props and instruments accompanying Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell and Scott Shriner on this tour were set up accordingly. A rear stage set-up comprised of large panelled graphics in front of a similarly shaped cage with an assortment of suspended lights curved around the backs of the musicians as they took the stage. For the first few songs the graphic on the panels had a retro 1950-1960’s feel in line with the “Buddy Holly” video. The band worked their way through “Buddy Holly,” “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” and “Undone-The Sweater Song” before the panels were moved about/rotated to reveal a backdrop adorned with Judas Priest, KISS, and Quiet Riot posters. A stagehand ripped off Rivers Cuomo’s tear-away sweater and the band launched into tracks like “Hash Pipe,” “El Scorcho,” and “Pink Triangle.”
Weezer performed “Happy Together” with some interspersed snippets of “Longview” adeptly mashing together The Turtles and Green Day material in a most effective fashion. During “Keep Fishin’” Brian Bell took on the vocals as Cuomo was draped in a sea captain’s jacket. Cuomo then quickly hopped aboard a hand scooter and shimmied his way up the right side of the venue before cutting in towards the centre of the venue by scootering in between the 300s and 400s before settling upon a small platform behind the soundboard where he delivered some acoustic songs. “Island in the Sun,” “Magic,” (a B.o.B cover) performed live for the first time this evening and then a lovely version of “Take On Me” by a‐ha, a track Cuomo introduced as one of his all-time favourite 1980s songs.
Weezer just crushed their cover of the hit single “Africa”!
Cuomo then scootered back to the main stage where all of the stage graphics had been replaced by large lit signage of the bands stylized “W” symbol - raised up high above Patrick Wilson’s drum kit. Weezer then worked their way through tracks like “Burndt Jamb,” “Feels Like Summer” their recently released Toto cover of “Africa” before culminating with a lively audience participation highlight sing-along to “Say It Ain't So.” Flames burst from the stage at either side of the band members, behind Wilson’s drum kit and out the sides of the “W” symbol throughout “Say It Ain't So,” the heat from the flames radiating out past the 300 section and into the Toronto night. This was an exceptional evening indeed. Both bands sounded excellent and left the audience wanting more.
Pixies’ Toronto Setlist:
Wave of Mutilation
Um Chagga Lagga
Isla de Encanta
Monkey Gone to Heaven
I've Been Tired
Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
All I Think About Now
Planet of Sound
Where Is My Mind?
Winterlong (Neil Young cover)
Weezer’s Toronto Setlist:
Pork and Beans
Undone-The Sweater Song
My Name Is Jonas
In the Garage
Happy Together/Longview (The Turtles/Green Day cover)
Keep Fishin' (Brian Bell vocals) Acoustic Stage:
Island in the Sun
Magic (B.o.B cover) (live debut by Weezer)
Take On Me (a‐ha cover) Continued Set:
Burndt Jamb (Brian Bell sings Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit")
(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
Feels Like Summer
Africa (Toto cover) Encore:
The Good Life
Say It Ain't So (Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” outro)