“You guys ready to take a ride on the Weezer time machine?” shouted Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo as he and his band took the stage at the Nob Hill Masonic Center on the first of two Weezer Memories Tour stops in San Francisco. Night one was billed as the “Blue” evening, with the band playing its 1994 self-titled debut (a.k.a. the Blue Album) in its entirety. But there was much more in store for the Weezer faithful than Rivers had clued us in on back in August on the set of the foursome’s “Memories” music video .
Before the Blue tunes got under way, the trip down memory lane began with a retrospective set of hits. Kicking things off appropriately with the Hurley single “Memories,” the band worked its way backward through its catalog. Rivers began most of the songs by shouting out the year and the album it was from, trekking all the way back to “Falling for You” from 1996′s Pinkerton.
The show itself was loose and fun, with Rivers racing up and down the aisles, eventually making his way up to the soundboard on the balcony. By “Pork and Beans,” the fourth song of the 10-song mini-set, Rivers was streaming toilet paper rolls into the crowd and anointing people with water. Although there were 3,000 fans in attendance, Rivers made sure each one felt as if he or she had a front-row seat — and likely gave them a high five too.
As the set — which also included “Beverly Hills,” “Keep Fishin’ ” and “Hash Pipe” — wound down, the band broke for intermission. During the break, fans were treated to a treasure trove of artifacts courtesy of Weezer’s resident historian/ photographer/ jack of all trades, Karl Koch.
The slide show, narrated by Koch, highlighted Weezer’s early days: a flier from L.A.’s Club Dump (now the Viper Room), an early set list that pretty much would come to be the Blue Album, a photo of the actual garage described in “In the Garage” off the Blue Album (yes, it exists), just to name a few.
With intermission over, it was time for the evening’s main course. A simple blue background with the band’s name, similar to the Blue Album cover, replaced the lighted flying W. It was as if the band were saying “let the music speak for itself.” They kept it pretty simple for the Blue Album portion of the night. There were fewer antics — the bandmembers were anchored in their positions — but by no means was it a subdued performance. It probably was the most sing-along portion of the night, especially during “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So.”
At one point during “Surf Wax America,” a fan made his way onstage and mingled with the band. They kept it cool, showing not an ounce of frustration.
As the band hammered away onstage, the audience stayed on its feet for the entire night. There was a special feeling in the air, a feeling that you were being treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When it was all over, as the final notes of “Only in Dreams” hung in the air, the band grouped at the foot of the stage and took a simple bow to thunderous applause. A modest gesture to make, but it speaks volumes to the band’s longevity and devoted fanbase.
And of course, Rivers couldn’t get away without high-fiving a few fans on his way offstage.