Obviously, Weezer really took the "Memories" theme of their current tour to heart. The band's two nights at the Gibson Amphitheatre this weekend not only featured giddy "greatest hits" sets followed by full track-by-track renditions of two of their most beloved releases, The Blue Album (Friday) and Pinkerton (Saturday) -- the breaks in between featured slideshow presentations with old pictures and flyers from the band's days struggling and playing L.A.'s live venues. Friday, we saw some from Club Lingerie, Club Dump (in the space that's now the Viper Room) and English Acid at 7969, where yours truly was the door girl for a while.
Since the tour is all about memories, let us share one of ours from Weezer's nobody period. In the mid-'90s they often played Coconut Teaszer (now XIV on the Sunset Strip) for ASCAP night, and we also manned the guest-list there during those gigs, so we saw them a lot. Even though we really dug their heavy, hook-laden pop rock and campy vibe, as a critic, we thought they were too intentionally nerdy -- back then, Rivers wore a ponytail -- to ever make it. Even their name was off-putting at the time.
Of course, "nerd rock" ended up becoming a triumphant genre and Weezer its unchallenged heroes. Stripe-shirted-and-bespectacled slowly but surely became a lot cooler than guy-linered-and-leathered, and self-deprecating humor sexier than cock-rock come-ons. Mixing in songs about sweaters and the OG (original geek) of guitar rock, "Buddy Holly," as debuted on its self-titled release -- since known as "the Blue Album" -- the Weezer mojo just clicked. With Hollywood still coming out of glam-metal's glazed haze and grunge starting to lose its grip, the timing was right for this kind of unlikely rockstar, and the guys definitely had the tunes to back it all up.
Also, Rivers got a haircut.
Sixteen years later, the band, which also includes Patrick Wilson (drums, guitar), Bryan Bell (guitar, keyboards) and Scott Shriner (bass) rocked the heck out of the record that started it all for their hometown fans at Gibson on Friday. The songs were potent and spot-on as any hardcore "W" handsigner in the audience shouting along could have hoped for.
Sprightly and tight for both parts of the show, the band was also more restrained playing their career-making record than they were earlier on the hits (during which Cuomo announced the release date and the album for each before tearing in). The singer has notably come out of his shell throughout the band's career, so it was fitting he held back behind a guitar during the early "Blue" period and let loose for the newer material. And we do mean loose, charging into the crowd early on, splashing water often, joining Josh Freeze (who now plays drums when Wilson dons the axe) on the skins and hi-fiving fans throughout.
He also did some jovial duets, first with Lost's Jorge Garcia (whose mug emblazons their latest, Hurley) on "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" and then with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino on "Island in the Sun." Surprisingly, Garcia's was the better of the two.
Though we've heard the record and seen the videos and read the interviews, we've never quite got the hype on Best Coast or its lead singer. We always have love for women who rock and Cosentino has a sweet enough voice and she seems like a nice enough person, but the music, for the most part has left us unimpressed. Maybe it's her on-stage charisma that makes indie boys weak in the knees and got her named the "4th coolest musician in the world" by NME, we wondered. It's surely a hard thing to live up to, but the band's opening set at Gibson offered nothing to convince us. The venue size may have been part of the problem but she just didn't connect, even on the livelier numbers. (It seemed like she knew it, too.) The performance really paled in comparison to Weezer's emotive and exhilarating set afterward.
This may put us on some kind of hipster (s)hitlist, but we think BC may be the most over-rated band out there right now. Okay, the 4th most over-rated band out there right now. Not sure they're the kind of artists that will ever be able to fill an amphitheatre on their own, but if they prove us wrong -- Weezer did, after all -- then more power to 'em.
See more pics from the Weezer show here.