Weezer, Angels & Airwaves Nokia Theatre October 21, 2008
Better than: Trying to pretend I'm not a nerd and attending the Girl Talk show, I guess.
Sure, it was a little goofy. But, when Weezer came out on stage last night to launch into its hour-and-a-half-long set at Nokia Theatre and all the guys in the band were wearing white lab jumpsuits, frontman Rivers Cuomo upped the ante by also donning a white ski mask.
Like no one could immediately tell who he was.
Maybe, rather, it was more of a gesture. Y'know, a nod to his bandmates that, as they've been arguing, no matter what people think, this is a group, and not just Rivers Cuomo and the Weezer Backing Band.
Certainly, over the course of the night, as drummer Pat Wilson, bass player Scott Shriner and guitarist Brian Bell sang various verses and choruses one would normally expect Cuomo to handle, this seemed to be a goal of the band's.
And, you know what? It was fine. After 16 years in the industry, maybe the other guys in Weezer do deserve their due. And they got more than enough love and shine from the Nokia crowd last night.
But, of course, that didn't keep Cuomo from stealing the show. The Weezer frontman was at his goofiest during his band's set as every single thing he did was done with a snide irony. For instance, during, oh, the first half hour of the show, Cuomo only spoke Spanish to the crowd. And, later, once the set really got going, he repeatedly powerslid across the stage (wearing protective knee pads so as not to hurt himself, of course).
At on point, as Bell took the lead vocals on "El Scorcho," Cuomo even played mouse to the crowd's cat, hiding from the spotlight behind a pile of speakers set off to the side of the stage. He'd coyly peak his head above the speakers from time to time and smile at the audience, which whooped it up and summarily ignored Bell's performance. Eventually, during that same song, Cuomo hopped on the shoulders of a security guard for a fist-pumping ride through the theater.
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It kind of spoke to the band's transformation over the years. Although always considered to be a group of goofballs, the band has, to an extent, left its nerd rock image behind. Now the band seems more nerdy for show--not because they aren't nerdy, but because, finally, the mainstream audience is in on the obvious joke.
Which maybe explains why songs like "Troublemaker" and "Pork and Beans," off the band's latest release, received every bit the same amount of love from the audience--if not more--as earlier favorites like the set-opening back-to-back offerings of "My Name Is Jonas" and "Pink Triangle" did.
That and, maybe, after 16 years in the industry, the band is just a little sick of those older songs. The band's performance throughout the night was high on energy, and really, it was a helluva time. But certainly the band seemed more emphatic in presenting its newer material to the audience.
No wonder, then, that Cuomo--and perhaps rightfully so--seemed to feel on top of the world last night.
"We're on a rock campaign to save the United States from the sorry state of being without Weezer," he announced at one point to a laughing audience. "Tonight, you have been saved by our very presence."
Because the crowd reciprocated that exuberance, I guess you can't blame him for such sentiment. Maybe we were being saved. --Pete Freedman
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Like anyone who isn't under the age of 18 and considers himself a Weezer fan, yeah, I much prefer the blue album and Pinkerton to anything the band's done since. I don't necessarily hate the more recent outputs, I just can't really get behind them--in my opinion, the best songs on those discs are the ones that have been released as radio singles. The rest sound kind of lackluster to me. Fortunately, the crowd wasn't treated to any obscurities from, say, Maladroit on this night. It was all hits, all the time--and from a band that has plenty of them.
Random Note: There were plastic cutouts of the band's blue album for fans to stand behind and pose with. Quite hilariously--at least, to me--the lone head removed from the Weezer lineup in those sheets was that of departed Weezer bass player Matt Sharp.
One More Highlight: During Weezer's encore, the band brought out 21 contest winners from a local radio station (not sure which...The Edge, maybe?) to perform alongside them. Each of these audience members had an instrument with them, ranging from spoons to tombone, as they jammed alongside Weezer to play "Island In The Sun" and "Beverly Hills." It sounded pretty awful, although certain parts, I'll admits, like the accordion solo, every bit deserved the enthusiastic crowd reaction their received.
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By the Way: Tokyo Police Club's set was apparently moved up to 7:30 p.m. last night at the last minute, so much of the crowd, including me, missed out on their set (thanks, Nokia!). Meanwhile, a large chunk of the crowd seemed to be at Nokia last night just to see Angels & Airwaves, the other opener. not surprisingly, those were mostly skate punk-looking teens. And they sure got a hell of a kick out of the fact that frontman (and former Blink-182 member) Tom Delonge joined Weezer onstage to sing "Undone (The Sweater Song)."
Set List "My Name Is Jonas" "Pink Triangle" "Perfect Situation" "Say It Ain't So" "Suzanne" "Keep Fishin'" "King" "Undone (The Sweater Song)" with Tom Delonge "Pork And Beans" "Dope Nose" "Troublemaker" "Automatic" "Hash Pipe" "El Scorcho" "Time" Pink Floyd cover "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived"
Encore No. 1 (with 21 radio contest winners): "Island In The Sun" "Beverly Hills"
Encore No. 2: "Sliver" Nirvana cover "Buddy Holly"