Revenge of the Nerds: Weezer's Back!

Weezer showcase new songs in triumphant return to stage
Posted Aug 25, 2000 at 12:00am
Weezer could write volumes on pop psychology -- in their case, the dynamics behind male songwriters who struggle to balance a love for the perfectly crafted pop song and the equally insistent desire to thrash and wail with no form at all. Who waver between the extremes of complete insecurity and uncertainty that endears them to the angst-ridden indie/emo rock set, and the solid assurance and machismo of their cock rock heroes. Who try to integrate their maleness and femaleness without being too androgynous, or God forbid, too boring. All of this, and more, was on display as Weezer staged a triumphant return Wednesday at New York's Irving Plaza, after dropping out of sight for nearly three years.

Glimpses of frontman Rivers Cuomo's anxieties were readily apparent -- asking the crowd to help him decide the set list, for one. His appearance, resembling a younger Rick Moranis with his thick, clunky Clark Kent glasses and a buttoned-up-to-the-collar shirt, didn't exactly yell "rock star." But that's part of Weezer's daily dose of irony -- you never know, nor are you supposed to -- if it's entirely an act or not.

With a flashing giant "W" sign behind Pat Wilson's drum kit, Weezer opened with the dynamic "My Name Is Jonas," setting the stage for songs to follow that would somehow manage to maintain the fine line between being gentle and propulsive. Raising his fists and guitar with the punctuating "yeah, yeah, yeah," Cuomo turned the song's lyrics into declarations -- as if the repetition of "still making noise" signaled Weezer's own comeback.

Though new bassist Mikey Welsh doesn't harmonize as well as his predecessor Matt Sharp (of the Rentals), he actually provided a necessary contrast to Cuomo's self-consciousness. Clearly at ease with himself, he would strike poses without irony, turning his back and playing bass while standing on the drum raisers, swiveling his hips in a pseudo-suggestive manner. Guitarist Brian Bell added to these postures, flashing his movie-star smile and spreading his lanky legs, but it didn't seem as overtly sexual as Welsh's playing did.

With that contrast clearly set up -- Welsh as alpha male id, Cuomo as fragile male ego -- Weezer pumped up and powered through "In the Garage," the band's answer to Brian Wilson's "In My Room," which explains their psychology better than any of their songs. Closet Kiss fans who resort to crafting meticulously arranged songs to feel safe? If that's not repression, nothing is.

Say what you like about the new songs, but repressed they are not. In, for instance, the terse "Your Sister," Cuomo confesses to obsessions better left to be analyzed by Freud ("Why am I so hung up on your mom?" is one sample lyric) -- not that anything Cuomo says in terms of his preferences in regards to the female gender should come to any surprise to anyone who's ever read Weezer's lyrics. The most telling difference in the new material, though, was the band's willingness to break free from their usual song structures. The jagged "Superstar" was more angular than typical Weezer fare, with an almost staccato feel to it. And "Too Late to Try" shaped itself around Cuomo's use of the wah-wah pedal, where he stepped on and off quickly to create a back-and-forth sound not often gotten from that effect.

Only four of the band's sixteen new songs were presented before Weezer jumped back into their proven material, where the biggest crowd pleasers, oddly, weren't always the well-known hits. "Why Bother?" from Pinkerton, the band's commercial "failure," had the audience chanting along "Why bother?/It's gonna hurt me/It's gonna kill when you desert me" with emphatic cheerfulness. And the final triumph of the lyric ("It won't happen to me anymore") became a rallying cry, as if Weezer had somehow tapped into all the unspoken hurts and insecurities of the disaffected, who found new hope and even perhaps joy in being able to share their pain.

Weezer seemed to capture the crowd when they were the most contradictory. Bearing their vulnerabilities -- after all, isn't that what show-closer "Undone (The Sweater Song)" is all about? -- and turning those hurts into strengths. Still, Cuomo held onto a few of his reservations. After a partly a cappella-rendered encore "Surf Wax America," he looked out into the crowd, almost wistful, as if he so wanted to just jump out there and join the adoring throng. But, instead, he laid his guitar gently upon the stage, and walked away. Next time, Rivers, next time.

Written by JENNIFER VINEYARD for News

Add a Comment

Similar Guitar News

Weezer Unveil "Go Away" Music Video Featuring Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino (7/24/2015)
Weezer have unveiled a zany new music video for "Go Away." The song, which happens to be the latest single off of the band's critically acclaimed 2014 album Everything Will Be Alright in the End, features Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino as ...
Weezer Premiere New Song, "Thank God for Girls" (10/26/2015)
Weezer have released a new song, "Thank God for Girls," and you can hear it below. "Thank God For Girls" is the first new Weezer music to be released since 2014's Everything Will Be Alright in the End. These days, Weezer is Brian Bell (guitar/vo...
Weezer Premiere New Song, "Do You Wanna Get High?" (11/3/2015)
Following the release of "Thank God For Girls" last week, Weezer have released a second new track, "Do You Wanna Get High?" You can hear it below. The track will be available on all digital streaming platforms tomorrow, November 4. "Do You Wanna...
Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Talks New Album, 'Everything Will Be Alright in the End' (9/30/2014)
This is an excerpt from the all-new November 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our cover feature on Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, not to mention features on Eddie Van Halen/MXR, George Thorogood, the guitar pic...
Weezer Announces New Album and Previews First Cut "Cleopatra" (9/10/2014)
Santa Monica, CA’s Weezer are thrilled to share the iTunes pre-order for their highly anticipated ninth album, Everything Will be Alright In The End, released October 7th on Republic Records. Those who pre-order the album TODAY will receive an...
Weezer's New Album, 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End,' Coming in September (7/9/2014)
Weezer will be releasing their ninth album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, September 30 on Republic Records. Produced by Ric Ocasek, who worked on the band’s first and third records (“The Blue Album” and “The Green Album”), Everything Wi...
Monster Energy’s Aftershock Festival Announces Lineup, Including Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Black Label Society, Weezer (5/29/2014)
The third annual Monster Energy’s Aftershock Festival returns to Discovery Park near downtown Sacramento, California, September 13 and 14. Its massive lineup will include Godsmack, Weezer, the Offspring, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Limp...
Not So Serious Rivers Cuomo (6/7/2001)
Weezer frontman talks drugs, sumo wrestlers and Dungeons and Dragons
Weezer Go Green (4/18/2001)
"The Green Album" due May 15th
Weezer Out of Warped Tour (4/9/2001)
L.A. rockers will not headline traveling punk fest
Weezer Album Due in May (3/16/2001)
First Weezer album in five years nearing completion
Weezer Ready New Album, Tour (1/12/2001)
Rivers Cuomo talks Outloud and the return of Weezer
Weezer Reunite With Ocasek for Next Album (11/11/2000)
Next Weezer album underway, tour planned for early 2001