August 4, 2011
So that was weird.
Seeing front man Rivers Cuomo run, jump and dance around; start and finish the set in the audience; sing a track off Pinkerton; touch his band mates … it was a different Weezer. And as much as I'd still like to (sorry–no, really, I am) see an exclusively pre-'96-Weezer set list, it was a good Weezer. A better Weezer even.
I mean, when's the last time you went to a really, really fun show?
And, actually, Cuomo even looked a lot like his former self–after a few rounds over the last 17 years with different looks (lumberjack, three-piece suits), Cuomo was back to a striped maroon polo with a forest green windbreaker and his signature specs. But, as per usual with Cuomo's signature idiosyncrasies, he topped the outfit off with a fake tribal tattoo sleeve–which he never addressed even once throughout the 80-minute set.
The band walked out to the 21st Century Fox fanfare and went right into a song I didn't know: “Troublemaker.” But it was fine. Because it was fun–summoning those squirmy, awesome feelings that I got inside when I saw them as Goat Punishment at the Whiskey way back when.
Fun was the theme of the evening: Maybe because it was Weezer, and maybe because Cuomo was happy, and maybe because the set list was near perfect, and maybe it was even because the lady next to us just asked the teenage boys in front of us to “stop smoking all that pot” as her horrified daughter looked on, but it was an amazing night.
Just before diving into “Undone (The Sweater Song),” Cuomo announced, “Orange County. It ain't Watermelon County. It sure as heck ain't Banana County. It's Orange County!” And then he reached over and pulled the tan fisherman hat off Weekly photographer Andrew Youssef's head and proceeded to wear it until the very last “Oooh-oooooh”s were unleashed. (Text message received from Youssef: “omgomgomgomg.”)
Usual drummer Pat Wilson spent most of his time on the guitar; Long Beach-based drummer Josh Freese filled in for him on all but “Say It Ain't So.” Bassist Scott Shriner sang “Dope Nose” as Cuomo climbed his way to the middle of the amphitheater to play the solo from the soundboard. Guitarist Brian Bell, who was performing despite suffering from strep throat, took the lead vocals for most of “Keep Fishin'.”
In typical Weezer fashion, two covers were performed: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People (“This is a song we heard on the radio”) and a flawless rendition of Radiohead's “Paranoid Android.” Yeah, someone pulled off a Radiohead cover.
The night spanned Weezer's entire discography, pulling favorites like “No One Else” and “Pink Triangle” and pairing them with hits and singles like “Say It Ain't So” and uh, “Beverly Hills.”
To finish off the night, the whole band congregated around Freese's drum kit to close out “Buddy Holly.” The five then did a group bow and thanked the audience.
And, for the first time in the dozen or so times I've seen Weezer, they felt like a real band.
The Set List:
“Surf Wax America”
“No One Else”
“Undone (The Sweater Song)”
“Pumped Up Kicks” (Foster the People cover)
“My Name is Jonas”
“Island in the Sun”
“Pork and Beans”
“Paranoid Android” (Radiohead cover)
“Say It Ain't So”
“If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)”
Personal Bias: It's Weezer.
The Crowd: Kids with their parents to the left and right of me. Disaffected hipsters behind me who ended up dancing by the time “Buddy Holly” rolled around.
Overheard: “I can't believe he looks the same!”
Random Detail: The Cuomoisms really haven't gone anywhere: “We're called Weezer. My name's Rivers.”