Two things to keep in mind before we get into a review of Weezer’s fall “Hootenanny” tour in support of this summer’s Red Album. First, Rivers Cuomo is closer to 40 than he is to 30 — he may actually need to put some Rogaine in his hair. Second, whether genuinely or ironically, Weezer has made YouTube culture the theme of their fall tour.
Fresh back from their Japan tour, their first American date at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA found the band experimenting. In the spirit of the YouTube Mentos videos, they came out decked in white jumpsuits. Their opening band, Angels and Airwaves sounded like something ripped off an emo 15 year old’s MySpace page. During their show, they routinely switched instruments, lead vocalists and costumes between songs (Rivers finally settled on an Umbro soccer kit with matching knee pads). Each band member got nearly equal time in the spotlight. And as part of bringing You into Weezer, they invited about 20 or so aspiring local musicians on stage to help them out with “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills.”
The net effect of their efforts produced a show that was at times disjointed but overall engaging and pretty hard rocking, though their antics may have been better suited for a smaller venue as we definitely felt the empty space in the arena. Weezer themselves may have been acutely aware that they aren’t suited for arena rock. Rivers chatted up the audience during song breaks and addressed his stage crew as if playing a small club gig. To start the encore, a roadie played a vinyl copy of the Red Album on stage for a good 3 minutes before the band came out — perhaps a slight dig to arena acts that lip sync their way through shows.
Musically, Weezer played a pretty diverse set. I only counted about 5 Red Album songs and thankfully only a few each from Maladroit and Make Believe. More than a decade removed from their first two albums, they still interspersed some fan favorites including “Sweater Song”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “My Name Is Jonas.” They also added quite a few covers, including a haphazard rendition of “What’s The Story Morning Glory” to end their first set.
I’m not sure whether ending the set on an old Oasis cover was a stroke of genius or just flat out bizarre. It left most of the audience simply bewildered, but it did provide a quick litmus test to find the fans that actually remembered the mid 90s.
On that note, it seemed the audience was divided into two groups. Older fans from the Blue Album/Pinkerton days and younger fans brought in by “Pork and Beans.” This proved cumbersome for singalongs as neither group was familiar with the other’s Weezer repertoire. That being said, it is refreshing to see a whole new generation of Weezer fans, fans who don’t know about Pinkerton or Rivers getting writer’s block at Harvard or Rivers’ strange celibacy experiment or his subsequent Yellow Fever or …
Yeah, it was nice for an evening to simply rock out to Weezer. Just what the band wants.