Concert Reviews

Weezer Kicks Off The Reunion's First Year with Family Friendly Pop-Rock

With Fitz and the Tantrums
The Reunion
Friday, October 9, 2015

In the midst of the Austin City Limits festival and Texas/OU weekend, Weezer provided a formidable concert on a breezy Friday night at The Reunion, proving they still have the magic after all of these years for power-chord loving, ‘90s-reminiscing millennials. If The Reunion sounds familiar but doesn’t quite ring a bell, that’s because this is the inaugural year of the outdoor music festival on the grassy expanse Reunion Arena used to inhabit.

Fitz and the Tantrums opened up with a set of pop-rock for families and couples soaking up the last of the sun. Fireworks went off from the Reunion Tower just as night crept in, and though they might be seen all around the city for miles you couldn’t get the full experience unless you were situated in a front seat at the fest. An hour later, Rivers Cuomo and Co. strode across the stage.

No words preceded the performance, but instead the resounding major chords of “My Name Is Jonas” introduced the band’s set-list, loaded with familiar crowd-pleasers. And as if the crowd wasn’t already kick-started by the band’s opener, the band turned it up even more by following with one of their biggest hits, “Hash Pipe” from 2001 when skinny jeans weren’t in fashion. The crunchy guitars, contributing to what could be considered Weezer’s grungiest song (move over Kurt Cobain), over River Cuomo’s falsetto vocal delivery got thousands of fans in the crowd singing along “woah-oh-oh”.

If you were anywhere in the crowd besides facing center stage, however, the punch of the sound was cut in half. Essentially, the people furthest left or right couldn’t get the full dynamic range from the speakers and instead the music ended up sounding muddy on either side. Regarding the sound in general, the low-end was lacking and the overall volume of the PA system wasn’t all that loud, but perhaps this was all intentional for an event that had more than its fair share of families in the audience. All things considered, Weezer isn’t a band known for volume but more for the catchiness of their hooks and their pop sensibility. Even so, it was undeniable how well the harmonic vocal duties worked between Cuomo, guitarist Brian Bell and bassist Scott Shriner. The band played tightly with every wailing solo coming from Cuomo’s guitar on cue, but it would have been nice if the sound was bumped up some so you could also feel the vibrations. Shriner, who always adds a nice touch with his backing vocals, did lead vocals on “Dope Nose.” Bell, for the most part, took a backseat from the action, playing mostly rhythm guitar and occasional keyboard cues.

Admittedly, the whole affair felt a bit corporate with Honda banners plastered across the stage and a 15-foot-tall blow-up Dos Equis bottle. Then, again, the event was set up to maximize crowds and welcome OU fans to the city, or so proclaimed Mayor Mike Rawlins earlier on in the show.

The biggest highlight, however, was the immaculate combination of the pleasantly cool weather and the beauty of the Dallas skyline behind the band during the entire performance. There was something about the iconic Weezer symbol brazenly flashing onstage while all of the lights of the city, the Omni Hotel and the Reunion Tower that made the night feel ethereal. As the fans chowed down and guzzled their Dos Equis, Weezer played their ‘90s hits in full effect toward the latter part of their set. “Say It Ain’t So” was followed shortly after by “The Sweater Song”. And Rivers looked nerdy as ever with a Members Only-esque jacket over a collared shirt. Even so, when he played lead guitar he could make his Stratocaster cry. The band even came back out for an encore to deliver a nightcap of “Beverly Hills” and last but not least, “Buddy Holly.” It was a successful launch for The Reunion festival and Weezer did what they did best, nothing more, nothing less. They are just regular guys who play pop-rock for the masses and, love them or hate them, they’ve been successful so far.