NEW YORK — Here's what happened Wednesday night at Roseland Ballroom: Weezer took the stage around 9 p.m., played a perfectly perfunctory 18-song set, displayed little-to-no emotion, barely addressed the crowd, chugged through most of their older tunes at 33 rpm, and charged $60 for a hoodie emblazoned with their logo.
And not a single person in the crowd seemed to mind.
The 3,500 Weez-heads who packed Roseland cheered wildly when Weezer's lit-up "W" ascended from behind the stage. They sang along to each and every tune, sorta moshed to older numbers like show-opener "Tired of Sex," and waved their hands in the air like they were attending a Sunday service.
And all the while, Rivers Cuomo played solos like a Guitar Center tech, with his axe nipple-high and shoulders slowly rocking. Guitarist Brian Bell looked afraid to screw up, bassist Scott Shriner bounded around like a goofball, and drummer Patrick Wilson absent-mindedly pounded the skins. For a band — OK, pretty much just Cuomo — so in love with Kiss' theatrics, the whole night was only about 1/3 Alive! and fully 2/3 Music From "The Elder."
As a rock frontman, Cuomo is never going to be confused with Gene Simmons — or Richard Simmons, for that matter; he's not being asked to vomit blood or wear dragon platform shoes. But it's an understatement to say the show would've been massively improved with at least a little bit of razzle-dazzle.
Then again, that was a moot point. To the army of kids who coughed up $32 per ticket, Weezer could've ripped through their set with their feet. Blue Album-era songs like "In the Garage" and "My Name Is Jonas" were greeted with squeals and cell phones held aloft. Angsty Pinkerton jams like "The Good Life" and "Getchoo" — the latter of which was made much less angsty when Bell stepped to the mic to sing it — got the crowd swaying and sent crowd-surfers coasting toward the stage. During new tunes like "We Are All on Drugs," kids chucked T-shirts in the air, and one very excited (and presumably female) fan launched a pair of panties at Cuomo.
The set was surprisingly heavy on older material, featuring not a single song from Maladroit and only six tunes off their just-released Make Believe. It's been reported that Cuomo relies on some sort of futuristic set-randomizer to select each night's playlist, but it seemed like Wednesday night's was powered more by nostalgia than anything else. Maybe that's why the band slowed tunes like "Buddy Holly" and "Undone (The Sweater Song)" down to such dirgelike tempos ... they didn't want them to end.
Hearing this incarnation of Weezer blast through older songs leaves you feeling a bit sad. The ragged, majestic guitar work and bouncy bass lines remind you of just how good this band once was. Or how good they still could be. That fact that was painfully apparent as Weezer wrapped up the evening with "The Good Life."
As the tune drew to a close, Bell and Wilson scurried offstage, and Cuomo and Shriner thrust their axes into amps, creating a wall of feedback. The stage lights — truly the most energetic part of the evening ... big ups to the lighting designer — washed over the crowd, flashing a bright, blinding Blue Album blue. Cuomo and Shriner tossed their instruments and exited, leaving throbs of distortion behind them, and those blue lights faded to black. The moment seemed fitting, yet strangely out of place. Nostalgia is an emotion, after all.
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