‘Say It Ain’t So’: A Weezer review on Live Metal

Weezer and The Pixies
March 17, 2019
Royal Farms Arena
Baltimore, Maryland
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Review by Jeff Maki
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It was one of those nights when everything seemed to come full circle. Weezer burst onto the scene in 1994 with its debut, “The Blue Album,” and it included the band’s biggest hits: “Buddy Holly,” “Undone – The Sweater Song” and “Say It Ain’t So.” The years that followed saw a string of “colorful” albums with hits and misses but eventually propelling vocalist/guitarist Rivers Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Patrick Wilson from MTV darlings to pop-rock cult status to where they are now, 25 years later: bona fide arena rock headliners.

“The Blue Album” was one of my “go-to” albums of 1994. It also was the year I graduated from high school and started what would become nearly a full year of partying and reckless abandon. It wasn’t uncommon to hear “The Blue Album” (on CD) played in a shuffle of acts of that era like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Sepultura, Danzig, The Violent Femmes, Beck and Butthole Surfers. We’d play the entire CD front to back and then repeat. Thankfully, we stopped short of wearing cardigans or trying to pull off those moves from the “Buddy Holly” music video. Not only was “The Blue Album” the ultimate party album, its grungy guitar sound, throwback style and memorable anthems cemented it as a legendary rock album for all time.

Yes, Weezer and I go way back, so it was especially pleasing that the band played roughly half of “The Blue Album” during its “greatest hits” style set: “My Name is Jonas, “Buddy Holly,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Surf Wax America” and “Say It Ain’t So.”

The show opened with a hilarious barbershop quartet rendition of “Buddy Holly” and then a near-capacity crowd at Royal Farms Arena was witness to each era of the band’s career. Different backdrops were rolled out beginning with a “Happy Days” combination classroom and diner, followed by the garage where Weezer originally rehearsed, its walls affectionately adorned with AC/DC, KISS and Judas Priest posters. The journey through the years continued with an identical stage to when they played “Hashpipe” on the MTV Movie Awards in 2001 and climaxed with Weezer today—back and better than ever. A gigantic “W” logo rained down sparks and shot out flames, as fireballs erupted from the stage during big riffs and choruses.

2019 has been kind to Weezer so far. First, it released a new studio album, “The Black Album,” and then on the heals of its smash hit cover of Toto’s “Africa,” a surprise album of cover songs called “The Teal Album.” Aren’t we running out of colors yet? I was looking forward to hearing “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” but it was left out here.

“Africa” was played toward the end of the set and got a huge response and singalong, while, Cuomo said, the band’s comical cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs” was played live for only the second time ever. “Take on Me” was good, too—that’s a song everyone happens to know. But the most metal part of the night saw guitarist Brian Bell handle vocal duties for a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” And this wasn’t some pop or alternate version either—this was as metal as it’s supposed to be. It also was the cover song’s live debut.

Cuomo performed an acoustic solo version of “Stand by Me” prompting a massive crowd singalong. At one point, he rolled around the entire arena in a row boat (the S.S. Weezer) with a paddle while performing. And I can’t end this without mentioning his now iconic button-up, trademark frames and comb-over.

Other standouts were the hard-rockers “Hashpipe” and “Pork and Beans”—you have to love a song with lyrics that basically say “Fuck you, I’ve got a mind of my own, and I’ll say and wear whatever the fuck I want.”

My expectations were high, but I ended up getting a lot more than I expected from this rock show—more timeless hits and memories, things I’ve had with Weezer for 25 years now and counting.

Weezer Setlist:

“Buddy Holly” (barbershop quartet version)
(“Happy Days” Intro)
“My Name is Jonas”
“The Good Life”
“Buddy Holly”
“Thank God for Girls”
“Undone — The Sweater Song”
“Pork and Beans”
“No Scrubs” (TLC cover)
“Living in L.A.”
“Paranoid” (Black Sabbath cover)
“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” (Rivers solo acoustic)
“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King cover) (Rivers solo acoustic)
“Up the Beach” (Jane’s Addiction cover)
“Beverly Hills”
“Island in the Sun”
“Take on Me” (a‐ha cover)
“Perfect Situation”
“El Scorcho”
“Africa” (Toto cover)
“Hash Pipe”

Encore:
“Surf Wax America”
“Say It Ain’t So”

the-pixies-live

Although not necessarily a fan, I wasn’t surprised Weezer picked The Pixies as its opener. The Pixies were an influential band on ’90s alternative rock bands like Weezer and Nirvana.

Led by Black Francis, The Pixies formed in 1986, and its original lineup remains intact save for bassist/backing vocalist Paz Lenchantin, who joined the band in 2014. Its latest studio album, “Head Carrier,” was released in 2016.

The Pixies’ brand of surf, indie and alternative rock is not tailor made or even meant for an arena setting, but they could’ve fooled me. The sound was big, the sound was clear and, most importantly, loud. In what I read as a punk rock statement, they opened their set with their biggest hit, “Where Is My Mind?,” famous for being heard during the explosive ending of 1999’s “Fight Club.” They knew everyone wanted it, so why not just get it out of the way? It still sounded great.

Other highlights of the 23-song set included “Nimrod’s Son,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Gouge Away” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”

I can see why The Pixies are revered in the world of punk and alternative. From Francis’ off-key vocals and musical transitions from soft to loud to the overall attitude, these were all groundbreaking attributes before alternative took over the music world the ’90s.

Weezer-Pixies-tour-flyer

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