Weezer, The Pixies and Sleigh Bells
The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
July 18, 2018
Weezer was formed in Los Angeles in 1992 by Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar, keyboards), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Matt Sharp (bass, backing vocals). After signing to Geffen Records in 1993, the band released its self-titled debut album, also known as the “Blue Album” in 1994. The “Blue Album” was an instant quadruple-platinum success featuring the classic singles “Buddy Holly,” “Undone – The Sweater Song” and “Say It Ain't So.”
Weezer’s other hit singles include: “Hash Pipe,” “Island in the Sun,” “Pork And Beans,” “Troublemaker” and “Beverly Hills.” Over the course of its career, Weezer has released eleven studio albums--the most recent of which Pacific Daydream was released in 2017 on Atlantic/Crush Records. Weezer has sold over 9 million albums in the U.S. and over 17 million worldwide. The band currently features Cuomo, Wilson, Bell and Scott Shriner (who joined in 2001 on bass, keyboards, backing and occasional lead vocals).
The Pixies are an alternative band that came together in Boston, MA in 1986. The group’s music is a mixture of many genres. Its songs and musical style contain bits, pieces and elements of alternative, pop, art rock, punk, surf rock, blues, psychedelia, indie rock, country and hard rock. The band's song lyrics center on interesting and sometimes bizarre topics. The lyrics have been known to be about fantastic and outrageous subjects such as The Three Stooges, voyeurism, outer space and extraterrestrials, violence, mutilation, California, incest, Puerto Rico and a number of biblical characters.
During the band’s 1990s heyday, it achieved moderate popularity in the U.S., but were more successful abroad. Its “loud-quiet” sound has been cited as an influence for Nirvana, Radiohead, Bush, Blur and Weezer. The group’s popularity grew in the years following its break-up, leading to sold-out tours following the 2004. The band is currently comprised of Black Francis AKA Frank Black (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), David Lovering (drums) and Paz Lenchantin (bass, violin). Lenhcantin, took over the bass duties following the departures of original member Kim Deal and touring bassist Kim Shattuck.
Sleigh Bells is actually a duo consisting of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Edward Miller who are backed in concert by a touring guitarist, bassist and drummer. The two came together in 2008 in Brooklyn, NY. The band's music is a gumbo of simple pop, punk, electronic beats, stinging guitar, metal, indie rock, dance-punk, alternative rock, a touch of hardcore and a smidge of R&B with powerhouse vocals. After signing to N.E.E.T. Recordings and Mom + Pop Music, Sleigh Bells released their debut album, Treats (N.E.E.T. Recordings/Mom + Pop Music) in 2010. Their follow-up album, Reign of Terror, (Mom + Pop Music) was released in 2012. In October 2013, the band released their third album, Bitter Rivals (Mom + Pop Music) while their fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, was released on Torn Clean Records in 2016. The EP Kid Kruschev was released on Torn Clean Records in 2017.
Many know Sleigh Bells from the use of its songs on television and in other media. The songs “Rill Rill” and “End of the Line” were featured in episodes of The CW’s Gossip Girl. “Kids” was used by MTV to promote the series Skins. CBS’ The Good Wife featured the song “Riot Rhythm” in a 2013 episode. “Infinity Guitars” was featured a Windows Phone commercial in 2011 and again in episodes of ABC’s Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and HBO’s Girls, as well as in the opening credits for the 2012 film Bachelorette. The band also appeared in the 2012 action-thriller film Premium Rush, where they performed the song “Crown on the Ground.” In 2012, Sleigh Bells was featured in an Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode taped in Austin, TX. More recently, in 2016, “Riot Rhythm” was featured on the FOX series New Girl and in 2017, "24" appeared in season 1 of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why.
On a pleasant Wednesday evening in mid-July at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, the fans were still finding their seats in the intimate venue on the bay as Sleigh Bells took the stage. It had been an unusually warm and humid summer day, but thankfully it was cooler on the water—that is until Sleigh Bells took the stage and lit the venue on fire. Krauss, Miller and their band were blistering hot.
The group’s short eight song set immediately got those already at their seats up on their feet and boppin’ to the beat. Those who arrived early were treated to a fantastic set that featured “Blue Trash Mattress Fire” from Kid Kruschev, “Riot Rhythm” which was probably the song best-known by those in the audience members who were less familiar with the duo’s work, “Favorite Transgressions” (another tune from Kid Kruschev) and the set-closer “Crown On The Ground.” By the end of the set, when they left the stage, Sleigh Bells had proved to be the evening’s perfect opener and they had surely gained some new fans.
When co-heardliner the Pixies appeared on the stage, to a recorded version of The Beatles oddity, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” the majority of the crowd had found its way to the seats. As the last notes of the Beatles’ tune faded into the ether, the band provided its fanatic followers with a frantic and powerful eighteen song, sonic assault featuring eccentric, eclectic and thunderous alternative rock.
The band functioned as a well-oiled machine. There was little, almost no, banter. The Pixies just played the song, finished the song and started the next song. The set featured some of the group's more radio-friendly songs such as “Where is My Mind” (made famous in Fight Club), “Monkey Gone To Heaven” and “Velouria.” As with most Pixies’ performances, it also included many favorites and album cuts that sent the audience out of its collective mind. “Bone Machine,” “Oona,” “Snakes,” “Gouge Away,” “Tame,” “Cactus” and “Vamos” each made their appearance during the set. The Pix-ified cover of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” gave those who were not familiar with anything, by the band, other than “Here Comes Your Man” an opportunity to sing along. Other highlights included “U-Mass,” “Caribou,” “Gigantic” and the set closer “Wave of Mutilation.”
As with any concert and especially with a Pixies show, you never know exactly what the band will play. Band insiders and crew have said that the band members don’t either. They wing it. Set lists are almost non-existent. Song choices are random. Songs are chosen by what the band feels like playing at that moment. As such, even though the crowd offered up a constant barrage of song requests, no-one could know if their favorite might be played. Many requests were answered as the band rocked and rolled through its extensive canon, but some were not played. Unfortunately, one of the songs that didn’t make the cut was "Here Comes Your Man.
It really didn’t matter what songs that the Pixies chose to play, because the band was lazer-focused and the performance was amazing. Black Francis snag, howled and played like a man possessed, Santiago delivered riff after powerful riff and Lenchantin delivered the driving rhythm that along with the backbeat provided by Lovering drove the band. While this was unfolding, the dramatic light show was stellar. The group was backlit with lazers and featuring flashing lights as well as other amazing effects that at times made the musicians appear as silhouettes before a backlit tapestry as the smoke engulfed the stage. And, in the end, the Pixies were gone – as quickly as they appeared.
Weezer was the evening’s final band. The stage was hidden behind a large black curtain until the familiar voice of Tom Bosley was heard stating that “Happy Days is filmed before a live audience,” and the prerecorded “Happy Days” theme song began to play. When the tapestry was pulled away, the stage was revealed to be set-up in a similar fashion to that of the inside of Arnold’s Drive-In on the iconic TV series. Cuomo, wearing a nerdy Richie Cunningham-type cardigan, and his band were also revealed as it played “Buddy Holly,” while confetti rained down upon the crowd. Weezer quickly transitioned into “Beverly Hills,” “Pork And Beans” and “Undone -- The Sweater Song.” And the show was on!
Over the next hour or so, Cuomo and the band took the audience on a two-plus decade tour of alternative rock, Weezer-style. The set took twists and turns while the band and audience grooved to a very cool take on “Hash Pipe” as well as “My Name Is Jonas,” “El Scorcho,” and “In the Garage.” The Pinkerton album (DGC Records, 1996), the band’s second, was visited when the group performed “Pink Triangle.” Weezer also performed its newest single, the poppy, keyboard-driven “Feels Like Summer,” from Pacific Daydream. Other highlights included: “Keep Fishing” with Bell on vocals, the peppy “Island In The Sun” and “(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” (which saw many audience members dancing in the aisles).
Homage was paid (as always) to the group’s influences and favorite artists. The Turtles cover “Happy Together” included a snippet of Green Day’s “Longview” and “Burndt Jamb” was performed with lyrics from Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The Aha cover “Take On Me” featured a wonderful solo by Cuomo. The main set ended with the much-talked about cover of Toto’s “Africa.”
The encores were other-worldly featuring an amazing version of “The Good Life” and an epic and rousing version of “Say It Ain’t So,” which featured both audience participation and a hint of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”
As the audience members filed out of the venue, there wasn’t a single frown to be seen. People were glowing with happiness. Sleigh Bells made a powerful announcement that they were a band to be reckoned with. The Pixies were fantastic as always, powering its way through its set with passionate and tight but raw musicianship. Weezer remains, almost twenty-five years down the road, a powerful and amazing rock ‘n’ roll outfit that continues to amaze, amuse and make people smile.
Photos by Christine Connallon