9:04pm and the house lights are up at The Observatory as people stand patiently waiting for Weezer to take the stage. A few whistles and a slight jolt in the crowd catch my attention and I look over. Cell phones are pulled out and pointed at a spot in the crowd I can’t quite see. I crane my neck and catch a glimpse of a dark haired dude in a blue hoodie standing and smiling before he turns to walk towards the center aisle. More whistles and more cameras, but I still can’t tell whom everyone is freaking out about. Then as the crowd opens up I hear the girl next to me squeal, “It’s Rivers!” He stood for a moment letting the news spread through the crowd as everyone turned with their cell phones to capture him standing at the back of the venue with a smirk on his face.
Methodically he began to make his way through the crowd, then into the pit and onto the stage. The stage was dressed down (there were only acoustic guitars and a drum against a black draped curtain) and Rivers plucked at the bass and hit on a drum like he was a roadie doing a final sound check. So when he picked up his guitar and started playing “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” I don’t think anyone thought this was the beginning of the show. But we knew it had started when guitarist Brian Bell walked on stage singing along to “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” picked up his guitar and finished out the song with Rivers. With the house lights still up the guys started into “Why Bother?” as bassist Scott Shriner joined the duo on stage. It was on the fourth and, cult favorite song, “El Scorcho” that drummer Patrick Wilson joined them and then they became…Weezer.
The band gave us our dessert before dinner, treating us to a nine-song acoustic set filled with Weezer classics (I think we can say “classic” now because these guys have been with us for 20 years. That’s unreal.). During “Buddy Holly” literally the entire crowd was singing and holding their phones up to capture the band performing one of their most recognizable tracks. Cuomo and the boys seemed to really relish in the adoration from the crowd and maybe that’s why they kept the houselights up, giving them a chance to see the joy on all the faces. It made for a surprisingly intimate start to a rock show.
The houselights and stage lights eventually went down and a soundtrack of space-age ambient noise was pumped through the speakers. Quickly the stage was set for the plugged-in portion of the show, which was a track-by-track performance of Everything Will Be Alright in the End, Weezer’s 2014 release. Six screens flanked the stage and flickered to life like an old black and white television set. What looked like a 1960’s educational video about amplifiers played spliced with fuzzy images and voice-overs. Then the guitars cranked and the band launched into “Ain’t Got Nobody.” Lyrics flashed on the screens and the fans sang along to every word. It was perfect that the second song on the album is the love song (?) to their fans “Back to the Shack” where Cuomo rocked his lightening strap and an unmistakable passion.
Weezer clearly was enjoying this return to the stage and really had fun with it. During “I’ve Had it Up to Here” balloons released from the audience and for “Cleopatra’s” counting lyrics hand-held signs flashed up from the crowd (clearly handed out and coordinated beforehand). For “Go Away” the band brought out a surprise guest, no other than Best Coast herself Bethany Cosentino, who’s featured on the album. It ended up being a really sweet moment ending with Bethany thanking the band for making 2014 “the best year of her life.” The show reached its triumphant height when a blast of confetti burst over the crowd with Cuomo, Bell and Shriner standing on the monitors playing their guitars at full level of rad. The night ended with one bad ass encore “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)” that left both band and fan smiling from ear to ear.
Words: Anne-Marie Schiefer
Photography: Monique Hernandez
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