Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weezer play Pinkerton at the Gibson Amphitheatre, 11/27/10

The next sentence would have shocked and horrified the fifteen year old me, and not just because he wouldn't have understood the concept of 'blogging' or even the Internet.  I've come to really hate Weezer.  I look back on the last ten years or so of their music, and I find it hard to remember what ever drew me to them in the first place.  Luckily, there was a reason I cared enough to hate them so much, and I can still go back and enjoy the good ol' days.

Pinkerton in particular has always been one of my favorite albums, ten songs that perfectly captured how I felt at the time.  Not so much the lyrics as the emotion behind them, and I'm still perfectly capable of singing myself hoarse to "Tired of Sex," "Getchoo," "The Good Life," et al.  When this show was announced, I felt a cautious optimism.  The last time I had seen Weezer play, at Coachella in 2005, they had been rote and lifeless, a condition owing more than a little to the abomination that was their most recent album at the time, Make Believe.  Never had I heard a more blatant attempt to recapture former glory; it was all of the usual Weezer hooks and guitar lines with none of the sincerity or emotion or quality.  Songs like "We Are All On Drugs," "Perfect Situation" and the odious "Beverly Hills" made me actively angry, and worst of all, they gained no vitality on the stage.

It only got worse after that, and I won't even bother to put into words why songs like "Pork and Beans" and albums like Raditude furthered my hatred.  It was like a former friend had grown so full of himself that he lost all sense of who he used to be, and worst of all, there was a brand new generation of fans that were telling him how awesome he was.  I thought my time with Weezer was done, but then they decided to launch a tour honoring (and making money from) where they came from, and my sentimentality overrode any trepidation I might have had.  From the moment I took my seat, I felt old--everyone in my vicinity was at least eight years my junior, young enough to view Weezer's first two records as "classic rock."  After catching the very end of Best Coast's fuzzy beach rock, the band came out in its new setup, with former drummer Pat Wilson now on guitar, the ubiquitous (and it should be said, amazing) Josh Freese on drums, and lead singer Rivers Cuomo guitarless, the better to be able to run around and act like a diva.  He even had a trampoline!

All of my grousing about the current state of the band aside, the night was expertly constructed, starting with latest single "Memories" and going steadily backwards, touching upon each album with a song or two.  After being subjected to "Pork and Beans" and a bloated song that allowed Cuomo to venture out into the crowd for an extended period, the Lost fan in me cringed a little to see Jorge Garcia join the band on "Perfect Situation."  Even post-Pinkerton songs I like, such as "Dope Nose" and "Island in the Sun," were tainted, by having bassist Scott Shriner handle lead vocals and the normally charming Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast join Cuomo for a less-than-spirited rendition, respectively.  I sang along, but I felt myself trying to get into it, instead of the music sucking me in.

Then, suddenly, it all started to change.  "Hash Pipe" started winning me back, and when Cuomo announced "B-sides!" before the band launched into beloved rarities "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" and "Susanne," I felt myself flying backwards through time.  Here was the band I loved so much!  Many of the kids near me didn't know these songs, but in typical music snob fashion I liked the ones who did even more.  Eschewing any popular songs from their debut (again, the message was money; you pay for both shows if you wanna hear each album's singles!), they closed the opening set with "Only in Dreams," a song I've never loved as much as many of my contemporaries, but which was amazing in this context.  The band had very smartly put together an evening that would have something for everyone, and was in fact geared more toward the old curmudgeons like me.  Never let it be said that they don't know what they're doing.

After having my heart of ice melted so enjoyably, I was completely primed for Pinkerton, and they didn't disappoint.  "Tired of Sex" wasn't as gonzo as the album version, Cuomo leaving out the crazed yelps and screams that make it so great, but from that point on they played a faithful and rocked out version of the old classic.  In fact, I spent so much time singing as loud as I possibly could that I don't have a real solid recollection of the rest, though that speaks to the general awesomeness.  If this was the last time I will ever see Weezer--and barring a miraculous upswing in the quality of their albums, it was--it was a fitting coda to our relationship.

Set List: Memories / Pork and Beans / The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn) / Perfect Situation (with Jorge ‘Hurley’ Garcia) / Dope Nose / Island in the Sun (with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast) / Hash Pipe / You Gave Your Love to Me Softly / Susanne / Only in Dreams

Pinkerton: Tired of Sex / Getchoo / No Other One / Why Bother? / Across the Sea / The Good Life / El Scorcho / Pink Triangle / Falling for You / Butterfly

Photo by Luis Sinco, LA Times

1 comment:

Tom said...

Two words: Matt Sharp.

He may have failed badly with his own band, but it's clear that he brought the essential creative conflict that kept Rivers honest and working hard and made the band great.

Cuomo has a great gift for music. It's a shame that all he wants to use it for these days is celebrity.