by Luke Slisz
While it would have seemed like an impossible dream to anyone in the late 90s, Weezer and Pixies performed wildly different but equally enthralling sets at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Friday.
Following opening act, The Wombats, Pixies delivered 22 songs that alternated between frenzied freak outs, such as “Gouge Away,” and sublime serenity, with tracks like “Caribou.” When Black Francis’ shrieks mixed with bassist Paz Lenchantin’s ethereal harmonies on “Debaser,” they managed to pull off each extreme at the same time.
Infamous for their refusal to pander, Pixies never addressed the crowd. In lieu of mock introductions, they took the stage to the Beatles “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” The music did the talking after that, most often in two-minute bursts punctuated by guitarist Joey Santiago’s remarkable ability to produce an endlessly inventive stream of feedback out of his instrument.
Photographers had to return their cameras to their cars before taking their seats, and Francis’ piercing wail followed me into the parking lot with surprising clarity. I imagine it then drifted into the living rooms of unsuspecting residents surrounding DTE Music Theatre. While a sunlit, outdoor venue may not seem like an ideal setting for a Pixies concert, in a way it made perfect sense for a band so inspired by the surreal.
Co-headliner Weezer was much more willing to put on a capital-R Rock Show. They opened with “Buddy Holly” while surrounded by a recreation of the song’s Happy Days inspired music video. Singer Rivers Cuomo (still clearly having the time of his life onstage) hit that song’s high notes with ease, along with all the others. He later adopted a pitch perfect falsetto to reach the miraculous climax in each chorus of A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” which he performed solo from the soundboard.
Throughout the set, the band’s theatrics maintained a charming, rinky-dink quality that perfectly encapsulated their inimitable brand of nerd rock. After Rivers’ soundboard performance (during which he also led the audience in an acoustic singalong of “Island in the Sun”), he was pulled in a makeshift boat around the venue before returning to the stage (which, yes, did eventually shoot towers of flames).
While Weezer’s set may have had a few covers too many for super fans (a “Happy Together”/”Longview” mashup as well as “Africa” were also included) the band still awed as they managed to pack in half of the Blue Album, singles from nearly all their albums, and even deep-cut “Burndt Jamb” before setting sail for their next tour stop.