Pixies still pack a punch.
Pixies still pack a punch.
Photo by Jack Gorman

Houston Embraces Weezer and Pixies Like Old Friends

Friday night at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, fans continued to roll to their seats and pack the lawn as the Pixies set began. The summer’s day cooled into the evening as temperature became blistering onstage. The band that has inspired so many others, played whatever they wanted from their expansive catalog.

The storied co-headliner focused on their music. The stage production consisted mostly of colored lights that backlit the group, often producing devious silhouettes. Black Francis painfully howled as Joey Santiago wailed on the guitar by bending strings and tricking pedals. The barefoot Paz Lenchantin played her bass with the customary big red flower attached to the head while Dave Lovering crashed and banged the drum kit creating the effect of controlled chaos.

Black Francis howls at the Houston crowd.
Black Francis howls at the Houston crowd.
Photo by Jack Gorman

The classic song “Gouge Away” stood out among the others. Lenchantin’s moaning cries gave a haunting depth to Francis’ morose lyrics and Santiago squelching guitar.

After smashing out almost 25 songs in 75 minutes, they played arguably their biggest hit, “Where is My Mind?” And just like one of Dave Lovering’s magic tricks, the legendary band disappeared into the smoke.

Rivers Cuomo of Weezer manipulates sound.
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer manipulates sound.
Photo by Jack Gorman

In 1994, a new alternative radio station had “Undone (The Sweater Song)” in steady rotation broadcast across the Houston airwaves. 107.5 KRQT only played music and just enough commercials to pay the bills. This was the city’s introduction to Weezer.

As opposed to their tour mates, Weezer had several stage design changes and witnessed lead singer, Rivers Cuomo venture out on a scooter to a stage near the lawn. Flames, lights, streamers and other sorts of rock star flair added excitement as the band launched into hit after hit after hit.

Cuomo and crew slapped hands with fans and continued a stream of banter.  “Looking at my watch. It’s Weezer o’clock. It’s time to rock.” Highlights of the set included the breakdown on “Holiday”, the cover of Toto’s “Africa”. The group’s newest single, “Feels Like Summer” meshed perfectly with all of the other hits. “Say It Ain’t So” was by far the biggest sing along of the night.

Rivers Cuomo of Weezer is blown away by the Houston crowd.
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer is blown away by the Houston crowd.
Photo by Jack Gorman

The crowd: Full of alt-rock families from graying grandpas on the lawn to infants being breastfed in The Lounge.

Overheard in the crowd: That smoke isn’t from a fog machine. That’s real smoke from the heat coming off of Joey Santiago’s fingers.

Random notebook dump: The Woodlands Pavilion is a venue that has made upgrades making it a great place to see a show for almost any fan. However, it was the first time seeing the Pixies play where seats were the closest to the stage, prohibiting people from being fully immersed into the show.

Personal bias: I begin each day drinking my morning brew from my ‘“Black Francis Coffee” mug.

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