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Weezer + Pixies & Sleigh Bells at Ak-Chin Pavilion

August 12 @ 7:30 pm - 11:30 pm

As one of the most popular groups to emerge in the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath, Weezerreceived equal amounts of criticism and praise for their hook-heavy guitar pop. Drawing from the heavy power pop of arena rockers like Cheap Trick and the angular guitar leads of the PixiesWeezerleavened their melodies with doses of ’70s metal gleaned from bands like Kiss. What truly set the band apart, though, was their geekiness. None of the members of Weezer, especially leader Rivers Cuomo, were conventional rockers: they were kids who holed up in their garage to play along with their favorite records when they weren’t studying or watching TV.

As a result, their music was infused with a quirky sense of humor and an endearing awkwardness that made songs from their debut Weezer (aka the blue album), like “Undone (The Sweater Song),” “Buddy Holly,” and “Say It Ain’t So” into big modern rock hits during the mid-’90s. All the singles were helped immeasurably by clever videos, which may have made the songs into hits, but they also made many critics believe that the band was a one-hit wonder. Perversely, Cuomobegan to feel the same way, and decided that the band would not rely on any visual gimmicks for its second album, 1996’s Pinkerton. Simultaneously, Cuomo took control of the band, making it into a vehicle for his songwriting. While the album didn’t sell as well as their 1994 eponymous debut, it did earn stronger reviews than its predecessor and paved the way for Weezer‘s long career. Cuomo‘s assumption of Weezer‘s leadership wasn’t entirely a surprise, since he had been the band’s primary songwriter since its inception in 1993. Raised in Massachusetts, Cuomo moved to Los Angeles to attend college in the late ’80s. During high school, he had played with a number of metal bands, but his interests broadened to include alternative and post-punk music upon his move out West. By 1993, he had fused such interests together and formed Weezer with bassist Matt Sharp and drummer Patrick Wilson. Over the course of the next year, the group played in the competitive Los Angeles club scene, eventually landing a deal with DGC during the post-Nirvana alternative signing boom. Three days before Weezer began recording a debut album with producer Ric Ocasek, they added guitarist Brian Bell to the mix. Upon completing the record, Weezer went on hiatus; Cuomo was studying at Harvard when their eponymous debut record came out. With the support of DGC and a striking, Spike Jonze-directed video, “Undone (The Sweater Song)” became a modern rock hit in the fall of 1994, but what made Weezer a crossover hit was “Buddy Holly.” Jonze created an innovative video that spliced the group into old footage from the sitcom Happy Days and the single quickly became a hit, making the album a multi-platinum success as well.

By the time the album’s final single, “Say It Ain’t So,” was released in the summer of 1995, the group had gone on hiatus once again, with Cuomo returning to Harvard. During the time off, Sharp and Wilsonformed the new wave revival band the Rentals, who had a hit later that year with “Friends of P.” During the hiatus, Cuomo became a recluse, disappearing at Harvard and suffering writer’s block. When Weezer reconvened in the spring of 1996 to record their second album, he had written a loose concept album that featured far more introspective material than their debut. Ironically, the band sounded tighter on the resulting album, Pinkerton. Released in the fall to generally strong reviews, the album failed to become a hit, partially because Cuomo did not want the band to record another series of clever videos. Grudgingly, the remainder of the bandmembers contented themselves being a supporting group for Cuomo, largely because each member had his own solo project scheduled for release within the next year. DGC, however, had the band make one last stab at a hit with “The Good Life,” but by the time the single was released, MTV and modern rock radio had withdrawn their support not only of Weezer, but their style of guitar-driven punk-pop in general.

Shortly after the tour in support of Pinkerton was completed in 1997, it appeared as though Weezer had fallen off the face of the planet. Stung by the public’s initial reaction to their sophomore effort (Rolling Stone even named Pinkerton the Worst Album of 1996), the band took time off to regroup and plan its next move. Unhappy with the sluggish rate of the reassessment period, Sharp left the group to concentrate more fully on the Rentals, fueling rumors that Weezer had broken up. But a funny thing happened during Weezer‘s self-imposed exile — while their copycat offspring were falling by the wayside (Nerf HerderNada Surf), a whole new generation of emocore enthusiasts discovered Weezer‘s diamond-in-the-rough sophomore effort for the first time, and their audience grew despite not having a new album in the stores.

Once Weezer‘s members wrapped up work on their side projects (Bell with Space TwinsWilson with the Special Goodness), the band recruited former Juliana Hatfieldbassist Mikey Welsh to take the place of Sharp and began working on new material. Before they could enter the recording studio to record their third release, however, Weezertested the waters by landing a spot on the 2000 edition of the Warped Tour, where they were consistently the day’s highlight. Hooking up again with the producer of their 1994 debut, Ric OcasekWeezer recorded what would be known as “The Green Album” (an informal title given by fans, since it was actually their second self-titled release). The album was an immediate hit, debuting at number four in May 2001 and camping out in the upper reaches of the charts for much of the spring/summer, during which such songs like “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun” became radio and MTV staples, reestablishing Weezer as one of alt-rock’s top dogs. During their tour that summer, Welsh fell ill and was replaced by Scott Shriner, also of the band Broken. (Welsh died in Chicago in October 2011 at the age of 40.) That fall and winter, the group busied itself with touring alongside bands like Tenacious D and recording its next album, Maladroit, which arrived a year after The Green Album‘s release.

Just before Maladroit‘s release, former bassist Matt Sharpsued Weezer, seeking compensation and songwriting credit for songs such as “Undone (The Sweater Song),” “El Scorcho,” and “The Good Life.” The band eventually reconciled with Sharp, though he didn’t rejoin, and Weezercontinued on with the lineup of CuomoBellWilson, and Shriner. The limited-edition live EP Lion and the Witchappeared in May 2002, and Maladroit‘s “Keep Fishin'” was released as a single. Most of 2003 was spent on side projects; Cuomo did some hired-gun songwriting, Bell‘s band the Space Twins put out End of Imagining, and Wilson‘s Special Goodness project issued Land Air SeaWeezer returned to the studio in 2004, working with Rick Rubin on their fifth full-length album. Make Believe appeared in May 2005, prepped by the single “Beverly Hills,” and eventually went platinum in multiple countries. Weezer (Red Album) followed in 2008 and featured a more collaborative approach, with several bandmembers contributing songwriting ideas and lead vocals to the tracks. One year later, the band returned with Raditude. Greeted with mixed reviews, Raditude marked Weezer‘s last album for Universal. They jumped to the indies in 2010, releasing Hurley on Epitaph. The new album was quickly followed by two archival releases: an expanded deluxe edition of Pinkerton, and the outtakes collection Death to False Metal.

Weezer took their time returning to the studio, finally re-emerging in the autumn of 2014 with Everything Will Be Alright in the End, a record produced by Ric Ocasek and released on Republic Records. Greeted by generally good reviews, the album debuted at five on the Billboard 200 upon its October 2014 release. In the fall of 2015, the band delivered a pair of new singles — “Thank God for Girls” and “Do You Want to Get High? — the first fruits of their sessions with producer Jake Sinclair. One other single, “King of the World,” appeared in January 2016, timed to arrive at the announcement of their tenth studio album. Another self-titled, color-coded (this time, it was white) album saw release in April. Weezer‘s White Album peaked on the Billboard 200 at number four and was followed by an extensive tour with Panic! At the Disco.

A year after the release of the White Album, the band returned with “Feels Like Summer,” the first single from their 11th LP, Pacific Daydream. Released in October 2017, Pacific Daydream boasted a more modern sound than its predecessor and rose into the top four of the Billboard Alternative and Rock charts. Months later in 2018, the band placated social media fan demand by delivering a faithful cover of Toto‘s classic “Africa,” but not before they first issued a cover of that band’s “Rosanna.” “Africa” became the band’s first Hot 100 hit since 2009’s “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” entering the chart at number 89.

Combining jagged, roaring guitars and stop-start dynamics with melodic pop hooks, intertwining male-female harmonies, and evocative, cryptic lyrics, the Pixies were one of the most influential American alternative rock bands of the late ’80s. They weren’t accomplished musicians — Black Francis wailed and bashed out chords while Joey Santiago‘s lead guitar squealed out spirals of noise. But the bandmembers were inventive, rabid rock fans who turned conventions inside out, melding punk and indie guitar rock, classic pop, surf rock, and stadium-sized riffs with singer/guitarist Black Francis‘ bizarre, fragmented lyrics about space, religion, sex, mutilation, and pop culture; while the meaning of his lyrics may have been impenetrable, the music was direct and forceful.

The Pixies‘ busy, brief songs, extreme dynamics, and subversion of pop song structures proved one of the touchstones of ’90s alternative rock. From grunge to Brit-pop, the Pixies‘ shadow loomed large — it’s hard to imagine Nirvana without the Pixies‘ signature stop-start dynamics and lurching, noisy guitar solos. While the Pixies were touted as the band to bring indie rock into the mainstream, they simply laid the groundwork for the alternative explosion of the early ’90s. MTV was reluctant to play their videos, while even modern rock radio didn’t put their singles into regular rotation. Furthermore, tensions between leader Black Francis and bassist/vocalist Kim Deal, who wanted to incorporate her songs into the band’s repertoire, crippled the band’s progress. By the time Nirvana broke the doors down for alternative rock in 1992, the Pixies were effectively broken up. The band’s reunion in the early 2000s was as surprising as it was welcomed, and the Pixies‘ frequent tours led to them recording new music in the 2010s.

The Pixies were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986 by Charles Thompson and his roommate Joey Santiago. Born in Massachusetts and constantly shuttling between there and California, Thompson began playing music as a teenager before he moved to the East Coast for good during high school. Following graduation, he became an anthropology major at the University of Massachusetts. Halfway through his studies at the college, he went to Puerto Rico to study Spanish, and after six months he decided to move back to the U.S. to form a band. Thompson dropped out of school and moved to Boston, managing to persuade Santiago to join him. Advertising in a music paper for a bassist who liked “Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary,” the duo recruited Kim Deal (who was billed as Mrs. John Murphey on the group’s first two records), who had previously played with her twin sister Kelly in the folk-rock garage band the Breeders in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio. On the advice of Deal, the group recruited drummer David Lovering. Inspired by Iggy PopThompson picked the stage name Black Francis and the group named itself the Pixies after Santiago randomly flipped through the dictionary.

By the fall, the Pixies had played enough gigs to land a supporting slot for fellow Boston band Throwing Muses. At the Muses concert, Gary Smith, an artist manager and producer at Boston’s Fort Apache studios, heard the group and offered to record them. In March 1987, the Pixiesrecorded 18 songs over the course of three days. The demo, dubbed The Purple Tape, was given to key players within the Boston musical community and the international alternative scene, including Ivo Watts, the head of England’s 4AD Records. Impressed with the cassette, Watts signed the band and released eight of the demo’s songs as the EP Come on Pilgrim in 1987.

The Pixies convened to record their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa, with producer Steve Albini, who had pioneered the thin, abrasive indie guitar grind with Big BlackAlbinigave the band a harder-edged, abrasive guitar sound, yet the group retained its melodic hooks. Released in the spring of 1988, Surfer Rosa earned enthusiastic reviews from the British weekly music press and became a college radio hit in America; in the U.K., the album made inroads on the pop charts. By the end of the year, the buzz on the Pixies had become substantial, and the group signed to Elektra Records. At the end of 1988, they re-entered the studio, this time with British producer Gil Norton. Released in the spring of 1989, Doolittle boasted a cleaner sound and received excellent reviews, which led to greater exposure in America. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Here Comes Your Man” became Top Ten modern rock hits, clearing the way for Doolittle to peak at number 98 on the U.S. charts; in the U.K., it entered the charts at number eight. Throughout their career, the Pixies were more popular in Britain and Europe than America, as evidenced by the success of the Sex and Death tour. The band became notorious for Black Francis‘ motionless performances, which were offset by Deal‘s charmingly earthy sense of humor. The tour itself became infamous for the band’s in-jokes, such as playing their entire set list in alphabetical order. By the completion of their second American tour for Doolittle at the end of 1989, the bandmembers had begun to tire of each other and decided to take a hiatus during the beginning of 1990.

During the hiatus, Black Francis went on a brief solo tour and Kim Deal formed a group with Tanya Donelly from the Throwing Muses and bassist Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster, naming it after her teenage band, the Breeders. The Breeders recorded the Albini-produced Pod, which appeared on 4AD in early summer 1990, shortly after the Pixies reconvened to record their third album with Gil Norton. More atmospheric than its predecessors, and relying heavily on Francis‘ surf rock obsession, Bossanova was released in the fall of 1990; unlike Surfer Rosa or Doolittle, it contained no songs by DealBossanova was greeted with decidedly mixed reviews, but the record became a college hit, generating the modern rock hits “Velouria” and “Dig for Fire” in the U.S. In Europe, the record expanded the group’s popularity, hitting number three on the U.K. album charts and paving the way for their headlining appearance at the Reading Festival. Though the supporting tours for Bossanova were successful, tension continued to grow between Kim Deal and Black Francis — at the conclusion of their English tour, Deal announced from the stage of the Brixton Academy that the concert was “our last show.”

While the Pixies did cancel their planned American tour, due to “exhaustion,” the band reconvened in the spring of 1991 to record its fourth album, again with Gil Norton. Hiring former Captain Beefheart and Pere Ubu keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman as an auxiliary member, the band moved back toward loud rock, claiming to be inspired by the presence of Ozzy Osbourne in a neighboring studio. Upon its fall release, Trompe le Monde was hailed by some as a welcome return to the sound of Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, but closer inspection revealed that it relied heavily on sonic detail and featured very few vocals by Deal and none of her songs. The band embarked on another international tour, playing stadiums in Europe but theaters in America. During the spring of 1992, the Pixies opened for U2 on the opening leg of the Zoo TV tour; it would be their last trek through the United States. Upon the conclusion of the Zoo TV tour the Pixies went on hiatus, with Dealreturning to the Breeders, who released the EP Safari later that spring. Francis began working on a solo album.

As he was preparing to release his solo debut, Francis gave an interview on BBC’s Radio 5, announcing that the Pixieswere disbanding. He hadn’t yet informed the other members; later that day, he faxed them his statement. Inverting his stage name to Frank BlackFrancis released his eponymous debut that spring to mixed reviews; over the next few years, Frank Black‘s audience gradually shrank to a small cult following. The Breeders released their second album, Last Splash, in the fall of 1993. The album became a surprise hit, going gold in the U.S. and spawning the hit single “Cannonball.” Soon after, Deal also formed the Amps, who released their one (and only) album, Pacer, in 1995. Santiago and Lovering formed the Martinis in 1995 and appeared on the soundtrack to Empire Records. Although 4AD began issuing archival Pixies releases, including Death to the Pixies 1987-1991Pixies at the BBC, and Complete B-Sides in the late ’90s and early 2000s, those were relatively quiet years for the band’s members.

After releasing the disappointing The Cult of Ray for American in 1996, Black shuffled between different labels before ending up at spinART for 1999’s Pistolero, where he also released his subsequent solo albums, most of which were met with a fair-to-middling response. Deal and the rest of the Breeders, meanwhile, suffered from problems ranging from substance abuse to writer’s block, and only surfaced intermittently, spending time in the studio but only having a cover of the Three Degrees‘ “Collage” on the soundtrack to 1999’s The Mod Squad to show for their efforts until they released Title TK in 2002. David Lovering left the Martinisand became the touring drummer for Cracker, and also appeared on Donelly‘s Sliding and Diving, but found himself unemployed in the late ’90s. Combining his studies in electronic engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology and his years of performing experience, Lovering dubbed himself a “scientific phenomenalist,” a cross between a scientist, performance artist, and magician, and warmed up the crowds at Frank BlackBreedersCamper Van Beethoven, and Grant Lee Buffalo concerts. Santiago and his wife Linda Mallari continued the Martinis through the ’90s, recording several demos and self-released albums. Santiago also began a career composing soundtracks and incidental music, beginning with the score for 2000’s Crime & Punishment in Suburbia, to which Black also contributed a track.

At the time, rumors circulated that Santiago would join Blackon-stage during one of his London dates on the Dog in the Sand tour; though this didn’t happen, it at least sparked hopes that the Pixies would eventually reunite. These hopes seemed unfounded until 2003, when Black revealed in an interview that he had considered reuniting the band and that he, DealSantiago, and Lovering occasionally got together to jam. Soon after, it was confirmed that the Pixies would reunite in 2004 for U.S. tours in the spring and fall, with an appearance at that year’s Coachella festival and gigs in Europe and the U.K. that summer, including performances at the T in the Park, Roskilde, Pinkpop, and V festivals. All 15 of the band’s North American warm-up tour dates were recorded and released in limited editions of 1,000 copies, which were sold online and at the shows. The week after the Pixies‘ Coachella appearance, the long-awaited DVD retrospective Pixiesand revamped best-of Wave of Mutilation: The Best of Pixies were released by 4AD. The band also released two songs, “Bam Thwok” and a cover of Warren Zevon‘s “Ain’t That Pretty at All,” in 2004.

Despite the Pixies touring regularly throughout the 2000s and 2010s, no more new music appeared until 2013, when the group went into the studio with longtime producer Gil Norton. During those sessions, Deal officially left the group. Bassist Simon Archer, aka Ding, replaced Deal in the studio, and the band hired the Muffs‘ Kim Shattuck for touring duties. “Bagboy,” the Pixies‘ first new song in nine years, arrived in July 2013. That September, they self-released EP1, the first in a series of short releases, via their website. That November, Shattuck was let go from the band; a few weeks later, Paz Lenchantin — who also played with Zwan and A Perfect Circle — was drafted as the Pixies‘ bassist. EP2 arrived in January 2014, and EP3 was issued that March. The EPs were compiled as the album Indie Cindy for that April’s Record Store Day. The album reached number 23 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. In 2015, Pixies played dates with Robert Planton his North American tour. The group’s sixth album, 2016’s Head Carrier, was the first to include Lenchantin as a full-fledged member and featured production work by Tom Dalgety.

Combining sugary hooks with a loud, rhythmic crunch, Sleigh Bells‘ experimental pop is the project of songwriter/producer Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss. The musicians formed the group in New York in 2008, where Miller (a Florida native and onetime member of hardcore act Poison the Well) had relocated in the hopes of starting a new group. He found his ideal partner in Krauss, a former vocalist for the teenaged girl group Rubyblue, and the two began creating a batch of demos. The duo signed to M.I.A.‘s boutique label N.E.E.T. and released its debut album, Treats, to critical acclaim in 2010. The band spent much of 2011 touring but found time to record, with Miller writing songs inspired by personal tragedy and playing a particularly metallic-sounding Jackson USA Soloist. The results, Reign of Terror, were released early in 2012 and peaked at number 12 on the Billboard 200. During another year of heavy touring, the duo found time to lay down tracks for its third record, Bitter Rivals, which arrived in October 2013. After two years of relative quiet, Sleigh Bells returned in 2015 with “Champions of Unrestricted Beauty,” a teaser for their fourth album that displayed a more straightforward pop sound than some of their previous music. In 2016, the duo sued Demi Lovato, her producers, and UMG Recordings for allegedly sampling the Treats songs “Infinity Guitars” and “Riot Rhythm” without permission on the 2015 track “Stars.” That November saw the release of their fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, which featured collaborations with Dr. Dre producer Mike ElizondoSleigh Bells returned a year later with the mini-album Kid Kruschev, which was sparked by Krauss’ move to upstate New York as well as the turbulent political climate of the late 2010s.