For a group of people that had either snatched up all available tickets in mere hours or purchased their tickets second-hand on the street (or from Internet auctioneers) at astronomical prices, Weezer‘s fans were a relatively calm, well-behaved lot. When the group’s glittering logo was hoisted high, the adoring hipsters cheered, jumped a bit, and got ready to rock without the screaming and teary-eyed hysterics that occasionally accompany such sold-out affairs. For their part, the members of Weezer were as low-key as ever, opening with straight-forward renditions of “My Name Is Jonas” and “El Scorcho.” When the fans loudly sang along to these familiar selections, they effectively drowned out vocalist Rivers Cuomo’s moody mumbling, but Pat Wilson’s steady drumbeat and the group’s lazy harmonies rose above the din.
Cuomo seemed to come alive during the next few numbers from the group’s self-titled debut album, especially during the guitar solo of the geek-asylum ode “In The Garage.” After having placated the crowd with hits and scraped off any remaining residual rust, Weezer tore into a flurry of new songs, hard-driving numbers with names such as “Mad Cow” and “Peace and Quiet.” Paced by Wilson’s rolling percussion and the band’s trademark subtle, drawn-out melodies, these well-received tunes both intensified anticipation for Weezer’s next release and ensured a Napster-surfing traffic jam at KU computer labs later that night, as most of these otherwise unavailable tracks can be found for free on the controversial Web site.
However, the freshly minted songs paled in comparison to the six-year-old album track that followed them, “Say It Ain’t So.” Though not one of Weezer’s signature singles, this tune’s insistent bridge and cathartic chorus capture the band at its most explosive. Granted, the recent setlist additions might benefit from repeated listens, as does much of Weezer’s catalog, but they lacked immediacy and instant allure. Place Weezer in the role of unknown opener, and “Say It Ain’t So” or “Undone — The Sweater Song” would have fans humming the unfamiliar melodies during the break between bands. By contrast, the new songs would probably inspire polite applause, but few conversions, from a nonpartisan crowd.
Near the end of “Sweater Song,” which marked the end of Weezer’s set, bassist Mikey Welch unraveled like the song’s titular garment, flinging his bass about wildly and venturing out to the very edge of the stage. Such antics were only a tease, however, as Welch went totally spastic during the encore. After Weezer churned through the enchanting jam “Only In Dreams,” which eventually segued into “Buddy Holly,” it delivered the perky send-off “Surf Wax America.” The song came to a sprawling, chaotic conclusion, and Welch began abusing his instrument forcefully, behavior so far-removed from Weezer’s usual detached persona that it was easy to picture the other three members gathering backstage to whisper “What’s with the new guy?” (Welch replaces founding bassist Matt Sharp.) Still, it was somewhat comforting to see some standard rock-star lunacy, as it might have been anticlimactic for such a hotly anticipated event to come and go without incident. Now, those who scrambled (or paid top dollar) to witness the show can proudly tell fellow fans who weren’t fortunate (or rich) enough to attend about the night Welch went on a rampage.
Causing much less of a stir was Dynamite Hack, the Nerf Herder-esque opening act who played its mildly engaging pop punk to an impatient crowd that seemed to be conserving its love for the headliners. Given a stage set-up that obscured the diminutive band and an audience that rationed its applause in a miserly fashion, it was difficult for those entering the venue to discern whether a live act was performing or a CD was being played over the sound system. Even the group’s “hit,” a happy-go-lucky take on Eazy E’s gangsta classic “Boyz In Tha Hood,” failed to produce a roar of recognition. To its credit, the group packaged this novelty tune in the middle of its set instead of milking it, and ran through some tight crescendos in its closing number that established its members as capable musicians. Nonetheless, for fans that had waited years to see Weezer live, Dynamite Hack’s brief stint on the stage was just one last tribulation to endure