Weezer alive and kicking

By the

March 15, 2001

Ah, Weezer … no Weezer review would be complete without referring to “geek rock.” And Weezer arguably defines “geek rock.” But geeks weren’t the only ones who showed up at Bender Arena on March 2nd to hear them play. The audience looked like a mix of high school debaters, teeny boppers who had grown bored of N’SYNC and regular jeans-and-T-shirt college kids. The fact that such a relatively diverse group can come together in support of the same band is quite a testament to Weezer’s music; the fact that some of them were crowd surfing to “Only In Dreams” was just weird.

The show was great, no doubt about it. The Get Up Kids opened, and as usual, they were remarkably interested in masquerading pop as punk. It would have been one thing if they were all twelve, but several bandmembers had birthdays that evening, and apparently they’re all in their mid-thirties. Some would say it’s time for them to move on.

Then it was time for Weezer. Weezer, that band with the songs about both Buddy Holly and a sweater, totally came through with an energetic performance of mellow garage-rock. The band has only released two CDs, their self-titled debut and Pinkerton, yet that Friday at American University was not just like listening to both CDs on random at really loud volume with lots of people around. It was more like the band showed up in your living room to play some laid-back grooves.

Now substitute “your living room” with “your high school gym.” Weezer have apparently had difficulty getting over high school; while doing as good a job as any indie-rocker type of looking forlorn, they were framed by streamers, basketball hoops, and mock-up bleachers. Since the tour was sponsored by technology guru Yahoo!, the secret surprise was mini-cams placed next to the band’s microphones which projected an upclose view of their faces onto the backboards. Not many people were lucky enough to have that at their senior prom, but it was a nice touch. Yahoo also provided a digital camera and cardboard mockups of the band. After posing with a 2-D Weezer in whatever position one chose (we chose wisely), a disgruntled looking roadie handed over a free picture. This is pretty cool as long it doesn’t become a substitute for meeting the fans.

They managed to start with a “New Song,” as it was referred to on their setlist, and followed it up with “My Name Is Jonas,” the lead song from the blue CD and one of their heavier songs. The riffs did a nice job drawing the crowd in. From there they briefly moved through a solid set of various Weezer material less familiar to the average fan.

But of course, they rounded the show out with the true Weezer classics. Right about when “Say it Ain’t So” kicked off, the lights went nuts, revealing a giant red, white and blue “W” modelled after the Van Halen logo. Gasps of appreciation rippled through those who knew. From there, it was on through “Buddy Holly” and “Undone”; “Surf Wax America” rounded out the encore.

The most remarkable thing about the show was the band’s ability to seemingly remain completely still for five or ten minutes at a time, all the while maintaing a very powerful stage presence. At any good live show, watching the band complements listening to the music you know so well. Somehow, Weezer’s collective stillness managed to perfectly follow the dips and swells of the set. Maybe it was telepathy, maybe the energy was passed via a deeper geek-rocker understanding, but Weezer managed to rock the crowd without risking breaking a nail, much less a string.

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