Sunday night at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center was overflowing with indie rock nostalgia, as all the cool moms and cool dads in town ascended upon Noblesville for an evening with the Pixies and Weezer.
Although both bands have had lackluster output in recent decades, the co-headlining pairing was one of the shows I was most anticipating at Ruoff this summer. Were the Pixies Kim Deal-less? Certainly. Was Rivers Cuomo corny as hell sometimes? You bet. Either way, the evening was quite enjoyable and full of many sentimental sing-a-longs.
Hailing from Liverpool, England, The Wombats have scored several alternative rock radio hits over the past decade and change. On Sunday night at Ruoff, the band treated an audience that was slowly trickling in to some of these tunes, including “Cheetah Tongue,” “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” and “Turn.” Despite having all sorts of energy, The Wombats’ three-piece indie-pop sound seemed a bit sparse on the giant amphitheater stage—an impression that was further reinforced by the two legendary bands who followed them.
This Seth’s gone to heaven. pic.twitter.com/DB8SanoFVr— Seth Johnson (@sethvthem) July 9, 2018
To kick off their 23-song set on Sunday, the Pixies knocked several mainstream hits out of the way right off the bat, almost as if they were making a point. The legendary rock band kicked things off with rather sleepy versions of “Where Is My Mind?” and “Wave of Mutilation,” then following them up with the radio-friendly “Here Comes Your Man.” From here on out, the band kicked it into full punk rock gear, ripping through several classic tracks from Doolittle and Surfer Rosa like they would in a sweaty club. In fact, Black Francis and company closed out with a trio of bangers, playing “Debaser,” “Tame,” and “Gigantic” in succession before exiting the stage.
Much like the band’s overall career, Weezer’s set on Sunday was a wild rollercoaster ride, full of many fun moments as well as some other head-scratching ones. After dropping a curtain in front of the stage, the band first appeared in front of a Happy Days-themed backdrop, kicking things off with the the Blue Album classic “Buddy Holly.” Cuomo and company then blasted through a pair of more recent radio hits in “Beverly Hills” and “Pork and Beans,” before returning to The Blue Album with “Undone - The Sweater Song.”
PINKERTON pic.twitter.com/RvryHAzAG2— Seth Johnson (@sethvthem) July 9, 2018
Later on, it would become clear that the band was telling somewhat of a story with their stage backdrops, as the Happy Days setup made way to a backdrop resembling the garage Weezer once practiced in. Appropriately, the band played several old cuts with this scenery behind them, including “El Scorcho,” “In the Garage,” and “My Name Is Jonas.” From here, Cuomo ventured out to an isolated stage in the crowd, appropriately playing an acoustic version of “Island in the Sun” with plenty of help from fans. This was then followed by a comical acoustic cover of a-ha’s “Take On Me,” which made no sense and so much sense all at the same time.
For the final installment of their show, Weezer played in front of a more typical “rock band” backdrop, complete with pyrotechnics, streamers, and more. Much to my delight, they pulled out the Pinkerton classic “Tired of Sex” during this stint, before eventually doing their what-in-the-world rendition of Toto’s “Africa” to close. Luckily, the band atoned for their sins in the encore, sending fans home with “Surf Wax America” and (of course) “Say It Ain’t So.”