Musically speaking, the bands that coheadlined Xcel Energy Center on Saturday had a lot in common. Personality-wise, though, Weezer and the Pixies were as different as Buddy Holly and Mary Tyler Moore.
Weezer came out — get this! — dressed in matching stripes and proceeded to sing "Pork and Beans" as a barbershop quartet. It was a fun start to an 85-minute set that did nothing to lessen the proudly nerdy Los Angeles rockers' growing reputation as a novelty act.
Not only did Weezer play its hotly debated remake of Toto's "Africa," but the quartet also threw in cover songs by Tears for Fears, Black Sabbath and TLC.
Conversely, the Pixies were as no-nonsense as bands get.
Frontman Black Francis (aka Frank Black) did not speak to the crowd once throughout his pioneering Boston quartet's hourlong opening set. Instead, he used up all their time to tear through 22 often manically paced songs where he ripped his throat to shreds. A polite hello from the bald, screaming frontman might've at least saved the young kids in the crowd from having nightmares about him.
Despite their divergent performance styles, the two groups combined to make for a rather blissful and blazing rockathon with loads of familiar tunes, at least to the Gen-Xers in attendance. They came from opposite ends of the early-'90s alt-rock boom, but each put their own unique spins on the melodic punk, loud-quiet-loud formula that Nirvana made famous in between them.
Saturday's attendance of 9,000-plus people was comparable to Weezer's prior Twin Cities appearances over the past decade. So their renewed chart success with "Africa" didn't really raise their drawing power — and maybe even hurt it, if you count the prevalent Groupon deals and the Pixies-leaning fans there.
Weezer went all-in on the cover-band shtick, though. Those four songs off its covers LP, "Weezer (Teal Album)," seemed excessive/embarrassing compared to just one off the newer, all-original "Black Album" ("High As a Kite").
Matt Damon's "ride-or-die" Weezer superfan character from "Saturday Night Live" actually would've been disappointed with the set list, which veered heavily toward the group's first three albums. Most of Saturday's fans weren't complaining, though.
The trifecta of "Undone (Sweater Song)," "My Name Is Jonas" and "El Scorcho" kept up the spazzy energy and loud singalongs soon after "Buddy Holly" early in the set. Near the end, the band delivered a four-punch finish with "Pink Triangle," "Beverly Hills" and an encore of "Pork and Beans" (non-barbershop edition) and "Say It Ain't So."
In between, though, things got pretty darn goofy.
Dressed remarkably like Holly from "Land of the Lost," Cuomo rolled through the crowd in a wood boat while guitarist Brian Bell sang their limp take on Sabbath's "Paranoid." He then sang an acoustic version of A-ha's "Take on Me" at the far end of the arena, which ended with him scatting the melody like Bill Murray's old "SNL" lounge singer.
The Toto song came after Cuomo returned to the big stage. He played that one decidedly straight and sincere — too straight, actually, but most of the audience seemed into it. For the rest of us: Nobody got hurt, it was over in four minutes, let's just move on.
The Pixies' set was a slow-builder by design. Francis/Frank played acoustic guitar through the first half, and his counterpart Joey Santiago didn't really go full-tilt into his distinctively scorching, devilish guitar sound until the 10th tune, "Gouge Away." They dropped in a few of their biggest songs in the interim, including "Where Is My Mind?" and "Here Comes Your Man," both of which pulled the crowd out of its seats.
Weezer fans who straggled in late for the Pixies might've felt like they walked into a typhoon. The last half hit hard and heavy with "Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Wave of Mutilation," the Jesus & Mary Chain cover "Head On" and the recent nugget "Classic Masher." Also near the end, "Caribou" and the finale "Gigantic" showed how well Paz Lenchantin — co-founder Kim Deal's second replacement — fits in on vocals after also being rock-solid on bass all night.
All told, this Pixies set was not nearly as thrilling as their two Palace headlining shows in 2017, their best in town since reforming. But it definitely beat those U2 arena dates.