August 7, 2010
US Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach Pier
really had the deck stacked against them on this one. The veteran alterna-rockers took the stage at one of the most inhospitable concert venues in recent memory. Courtesy of the event planners at the U.S. Open of Surfing
, thousands of beach goers and extreme sports enthusiasts were squeezed onto a tiny stretch of sand bordered by a jumble of vendor tents, port-a-johns, grandstands, and the Pacific Ocean.
Clans of shirtless douchebags territorially claimed tiny plots of sand for themselves as irritable revelers jostled and craned their necks for a glimpse of the stage. Under the watchful gaze of Huntington Beach Police helicopters and the blazing sun, the concert had less the vibe of a sporting event and more the post-apocalyptic feel of a Stephen King survival game show--where the fans were contestants. Yet Weezer managed to make the unpleasantness tolerable by delivering a set that was rich in hits and well balanced in terms of the album representation and chock-full of cock-rock mockery.
Early on, the band appropriately played "Surf Wax America" from their 1994 debut album. Without a guitar harnessed around his neck for at least half of the set, singer Rivers Cuomo twirled and banged his head while flailing his limbs like a manic music monkey. At times it was unclear if his enthusiasm was an ironic display, or a mockery of the jock-laden audience. As Cuomo is a bit of an enigma, the answer will probably never be known. If he was mocking the crowd, nobody seemed to notice.
During an impassioned performance of the perennial radio favorite "Say it 'Aint So," the crowd could be heard singing along to the music back where the water was lapping at their ankles. Newer material was also performed to rapturous fist-pumping including the über-kitschy "Beverly Hills." During the encore, Cuomo donned a Lady Gaga wig as the band performed a rendition of her hit "Poker Face." The band also curiously covered MGMT's "Kids." It served to remind those of us who love the band's sophomore album--the relatively low-selling Pinkerton--that Weezer has come, or depending on how you look at it, gone a long way during their almost 20 year life-span.
While they once sang songs about burning obsessions with Japanese fans and the power of dreams, they now tend to focus on Timbaland's producing skills and paparazzi attention. Side-note, the only song played from 1996's Pinkerton was the hit "El Scorcho." It sounded as good as ever especially the part where Cuomo sings "Maybe you're scared to say/I'm falling for you."
As for whether this crowd deserved to be mocked in the first place, it was hard to say. Most of these kids braved the heat and crowds like the rest of us, and you had to hand it to those folks who crammed in front of the stage hours before the band started.
At one point, I saw two raven haired, olive- skinned beauties sunning themselves--on top of a portable outhouse. It made me wonder.
Personal Bias: Pinkerton is one my top five favorite albums.
The Crowd: Bikinis till Tuesday. Shirtless guys with "situational abs," girls with heaving bosoms groaning (!) with saline. Disturbingly, there was a boatload of preteen girls with bare midriffs sporting temporary tattoos from clothing retailer Tilly's.
Overheard: "That's another $2,000 out of my own pocket," lamented Hot Hot Heat singer Steve Bays following the utterance of a curse-word. In the spirit of censorship, I won't tell you which one.
Undone (The Sweater Song)
Surf Wax America
Say it Aint So
Can't Stop Partying
Island in the Sun
My Name is Jonas
Poker Face (Cover)