Weezer at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
The fans get older, but Rivers Cuomo stays the same age
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Going to a Weezer concert is like hanging out with the friend that still wants to watch Happy Gilmore and eat Cool Ranch Doritos every time you come over. Sure, he’s fun and all, but spending a few hours with someone whose emotional development halted shortly after high school graduation makes you feel like you've been feasting a little too long at a cotton candy buffet. That was Weezer’s show Thursday at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom in a nutshell: a willfully childish sugar rush that ultimately left you feeling empty.
Or maybe it just left me feeling empty. The teen pop turn Weezer’s music has taken over the course of its last three albums—including this year’s relatively decent Raditude—has similarly made-over the band’s audience, which is now a mix of religiously committed die-hards and fresh-faced teenagers that were learning to walk when Pinkerton came out. It was telling that Weezer played only one song from its proto-emo masterpiece—“Why Bother,” which was dispensed with quickly and with a bored shrug—while pulling three songs from 2008’s critically hated Weezer (also known as “The Red Album”), and that the latter tunes were greeted far more enthusiastically by the audience. This was clearly a “Pork And Beans” crowd, which seemed to prove that Rivers Cuomo has been right all along: He’s better off singing to kids half (or a third) his age than about half-Japanese girls these days.
So, yeah, maybe complaining that Weezer’s recent material is emotionally bankrupt—and that hiding behind the “it’s just fun pop music!” excuse is a complete cop-out—isn’t worth the effort anymore. Weezer is committed to delivering strictly superficial pleasures now, and the music must be approached on those terms. Perhaps it’s best to forget that Cuomo wrote “I’m Your Daddy”—which is, believe it or not, one of the better songs off of Raditude—about his baby daughter and appreciate it strictly as yet another recent Weezer song about adolescent love where Cuomo sings with a straight face about “grooving on the dance floor” and how he “ain’t like other boys.” (Honestly, forget the song is about his kid, or else it will seriously creep you out.)
At the very least, Cuomo is a far less inhibited performer than he used to be. Now that Patrick Wilson has stepped out from behind the drumkit to handle guitar duties, Cuomo is free to run around and play the over-excited frontman. While his awkward dance moves occasionally made the show feel like karaoke night with your nerdy hipster accountant, it at least made seeing Weezer live more engaging—as well as a lot more batshit insane. By the time Cuomo had climbed up into the balcony to sing a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” with a stringy blonde wig obscuring his face, he had already gleefully tossed away his last remaining of shred of dignity.
Another nice thing about seeing Weezer in the flesh is that the crunchy, simplistic riffs normally drown out the lyrics, which are littered more than ever with the hackneyed hip-hop speak that seemed only slightly funnier in Weezer songs 15 years ago. Of course, Cuomo would have us believe that there’s no irony in a 39-year-old father talking about “chillin’’ with “homies” in “Let It All Hang Out” or how he can’t stop partyin’ in “Can’t Stop Partying.” Oh well, that’s our Weezer. What’s that, man? Oh yeah, Bob Barker beating up Adam Sandler is still as hilarious as ever, bro! Oh, look at the time! I gotta run and be with other grown-ups now! Smell you later, dude.