I like Weezer. I have always liked Weezer. There, I said it. Even if you claim to be a Weezer hater I’ll bet there are ten or twelve Weezer tunes which are subconsciously stamped into your brain. Their hooks are indelible and infectious, and not only the guitar hooks. Read the following lyrical hooks and I guarantee you will have a Weezer song stuck in your head for the rest of the day :
Ooo Wee Ooo, I look just like Buddy Holly, Wee Ooo, and you’re Mary Tyler Moore.
Hip, hip, on an island in the sun, we’ll be playin’ and havin’ fun.
If you want to destroy my sweater, hold this thread as I walk away.
We are all on drugs, yeah, never getting enough.
Beverly Hills, that’s where I want to be, livin’ in Beverly Hills.
Come on and kick me, you’ve got your problems, I’ve got my hash pipe.
See? What did I tell you. Weezer throws more hooks than a goon during the Stanley Cup finals. And they have continued to do so with their recent “White Album”. Sooner or later Weezer will run out of colors. Their album cover color palette has included Blue, Green, Red and now White. White is their tenth studio release and Weezer gave us a generous sampling of it tonight to an enthusiastic crowd at Lakewood.
I do not like Lakewood. I have never liked Lakewood. It has been named Aaron’s, Coca Cola, HiFi Buys – it’s all the same. My favorite hole-in-the-wall venue in Little Five Points is now closed for the summer. They are either renovating it or destroying it. We will find out when the Variety re-opens, but I have a bad feeling. It’s like an old friend undergoing a face transplant and you don’t know if you will recognize them when it’s over. Back to Lakewood. Phish has praised Lakewood for the excellent acoustics. Maybe they were eating mushrooms when they said that, but it’s the visual component I do not like. We should have taken binoculars. Lakewood is a shed which holds 19,000 – 7,000 seated and 12,000 on the lawn. Being on the lawn is a massive time-out where your teacher sends you as punishment for not purchasing VIP seats.
There was a dreaded third act, or the warm up for the other warm up. It was Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. I vaguely remember him from the band Something Corporate. Tonight they were Something Forgettable. Then we heard Panic! at the Disco, a band from Las Vegas. The only other band that comes to my mind from Vegas are The Killers. These guys are not The Killers. I suppose Panic! was alright. The crowd knew all of their lyrics and there were herds of prepubescent girls running around wearing Panic! shirts. They did a nice cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and I admit that I recognized their Victorious because I’ve heard it played after soccer games. For the most part, I was unfamiliar with their material and emo usually makes me want to vomit so I was relieved when they quit at 9:00. Just look at the cover of their most recent offering and you will understand. Panic! shares the award with Frankie Goes to Hollywood as the band with the most unfortunate name.
Weezer formed in 1992 in Los Angeles. Their first album (the blue one) was released in 1994. They were influenced by the Beach Boys, Pixies, Oasis and any other indie power pop alternative band that you think they emulate. Their lyrics especially reflect a SoCal Beach Boys vibe. They are fronted by Rivers Cuomo, who is the lead vocalist, lead guitarist and chief songwriter. Whatever Rivers lacks in height is more than compensated by his huge stage presence. If you are curious, “Weezer” is Cuomo’s childhood nickname. Judging by their promo pictures, Weezer could be a group of software engineers but on stage they kick ass.
Cuomo takes music seriously. He studied classical music composition at Harvard. He had a website called The Catalog of Riffs and created for himself a notebook entitled The Encyclopedia of Pop. Interestingly Cuomo contributes lists to Spotify of cool chord progressions and keeps a journal of potential lyrics organized by the number of syllables. It is safe to conclude that Cuomo is a deep musician and the antithesis of a David Lee Roth.
The current members of Weezer are :
- Rivers Cuomo – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, harmonica (1992-present)
- Patrick Wilson – drums, percussion, vocals (1992-present); guitar, keyboards (2007–2011)
- Brian Bell – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, vocals (1993-present)
- Scott Shriner – bass guitar, keyboards, rhythm guitar, vocals (2001–present)
My favorite quote from a music biz exec is a Weezer anecdote. The band was asked to submit a song for the film Shrek 2 so they decided on an alternate version of “My Best Friend” from the album Make Believe. It was rejected because “it sounded too much like it was written for Shrek”. Huh?
Weezer took the stage at 9:30 and played for a mere hour and a quarter. They sampled tunes from their entire career with emphasis of course on their recent White Album. There was little banter from Rivers, although I would have appreciated some detail about the songs. During their performance of “Thank God for Girls” a video montage of notable women appeared on the screen behind the band, eliciting cheers from the crowd. This is what we heard tonight :
California Kids, Hash Pipe, My Name is Jonas, (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, L.A. Girlz, Pork and Beans, Perfect Situation, Thank God For Girls, Beverly Hills, Medley : Dope Nose-Back to the Shack-Keep Fishin’-The Good Life-Surf Wax America, Tired of Sex, Undone (The Sweater Song), King of the World/Only in Dreams, Island in the Sun, Say It Ain’t So. Encores : El Scorcho, Buddy Holly.
I was hoping to hear their tongue-in-cheek song “We Are All On Drugs” simply because of its history and misinterpretation. Weezer was coerced by MTV to change the lyrics to “We Are All In Love”. However in the music video Cuomo is sitting in a barber shop reading a newspaper with the headline “We Are All On Drugs”. Cuomo responded to critics “Don’t take it literally…I’m singing more about the fact [of] how addicted we all are to stimulating ourselves, and over-stimulating ourselves with music, or whatever it is in our lives. [It’s] not necessarily about drugs.”
Despite the brevity, Weezer put on a satisfying show. I was able to exit the venue and walk past the T shirt vendors without buying one, but I came close to caving. I really liked the VW Microbus shirt. And another reason why I do not like Lakewood – we were stuck in the parking lot for 45 minutes afterwards.
Until the next concert, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.