With PAX Aus and Weezer’s headline tour in the same week, it’s an absolutely showstopping few days in Melbourne for white guys aged 27 to 50. And showstopping perfectly describes what greeted me onstage at John Cain Arena, Friday night. Californian indie Golden-Boys Weezer need no introduction. A perfect combination of meme-culture, unbeatable musicianship and perfect pop-banger to rock-solo percentage; they really are the upper echelon for anyone who enjoys teen movies from the 90s (or was a teen in the 90s). And so, before I introduce the cheese, the steeze “The Weeze”, let me tell you about their support.
Regurgitator follow in the highly coveted Brisbane tradition of fuck-off punk rock. Their sound is somewhere between Kraftwerk and Limp Bizkit. The Smiths meets Grunge. Two entirely separate forces that shouldn’t come together, but when they do – musical nuclear fusion. The guitars are howling, the guys are bantering and we’re all completely enamoured by the Brisbane trio and their shit-eating grins. As is customary, they begin a chant immediately after their second song of; Oi! Oi! Oi! An Australian classic. A cultural must. “Are you guys ready to hear a song that goes faster than the last one?” (Bong In My Eye – an absolute tune, of course) “Yeah this one goes so hard” One of them moans; “Uh! So hard!” And with a cackle that would make Jack and Jill run back up that hill, they throw us headfirst into Polyester Girl. After the guitars simmer a bit, ultimate Bass-dad Ben Ely asks us a question that really needs no answer; “We’re so excited. Are you excited?” We cheer, but clearly not enough. “It’s fucking Weezer, man!” Quan Yeomans, our ever-charismatic front man chimes in, “Weeeezer!” And so, of course, we cheer. And now that our excitement is excited enough, the show continues. Blubber Boy into Fat Cop into I Wanna Be A Nudist, it’s just out of control how many tracks these guys can deliver at full energy with no faults. Even when they are forced to restart on Blubber Boy, they’re still masters. The reason for the restart, is because the old adage that “White People Have No Rhythm”, was proven at John Cain that night. They get an entire crowd to clap along – no two of us had the same rhythm. The people of the Caucus Mountains were struggling to participate in the musical madness and wonder of Regurgitator. So, they get us to start. We clap, they follow; and they blow that stereotype back out of the water. After a really good bit “How many more songs do we have left? Are we out of time?” Runs it’s natural course, we are asked one final, tantalising question; “Should we do a naughty song?” But before they have time to deliver on this, Yeomans takes the mic. “My daughter should be here somewhere! She just moved to Melbourne! Where is she?” A sea of men shove their hands in the air. “You’re not her! You’re a fella!” when one of his Regurgitator brothers asks him, “Mate, are you even wearing your glasses?” And so, they give up. I hope she was there and had as good a time as the rest of us. The World of Sleaze and ! (The Song Formally Known As) take us perfectly into the World of Weeze. (These aren’t my words, I promise. Read on to find out who said that! Intrigue!)
Teal Album is one of Weezer’s more forgotten albums. A compendium of covers spanning 3 decades, it’s miss-able, but unforgettable. In what I like to consider an homage, they play us into the dimming lights, the unmistakable hush before a show, with Africa by Toto. An iconic song, an iconic cover, an iconic show is imminent.
To save you the read: I can, without a doubt, say Weezer’s Indie Rock Roadtrip is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. Whether you’re a hardcore Weezer fan, a casual enjoyer or a Pinkerton defender – this tour has it all. These songs are so a part of the cultural zeitgeist that it’s impossible for the whole show to not feel nostalgic, treasured, and significant.
Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson, Brian Bell and Scott Shriner are in an echelon all of their own. For the next two hours, we will be lovingly chauffeured through all of the bands biggest hits – and some of their smallest. With this foursome behind the wheel, you know it’s gonna be one hell of a trip.
Starting out strong with My Name Is Jonas, we are introduced to the vibe of the trip.
A cartoon, semi-idealistic version of America. We are Jonas, some kid living in the outer stretches of Los Angeles, completely lost in the world of our headphones. We jump in the car with some of our friends and start our long winding road North, and East. Turning the radio, The Good Life comes on. Out the window, we can see signs for American restaurants, but it’s all fantasy. “Jamie’s In The Box” “Bran Bell” “Up N Down Burger”. And the biggest fantasy of all, Weezer is on tour. Except that’s now. That’s us! This is fantastical. Immediately, we are on this trip with them through all these things that are impossible, fantastical, but oh-so real. Pinch me.
I will never understand what it is about hearing a singer mention the town their singing in that makes crowds go feral. But they go feral. Finishing Beverly Hills with “Living in Melbourne, Australia” set the crowd off. It’s like front-man Cuomos threw us gold pieces, we were loving it.
As In The Garage comes to a close, and 11,000 people sing-shout ‘No one hears me/ No one hears me’ Cumos speaks over us. “Have you guys heard? We’re opening for KISS tomorrow!” There’s some light applause. “HEY! WE’RE OPENING FOR KISS” and he hits a mean chord on his guitar. We respond with what Rivers decrees as a worthy level of cheer for the 1970s Rock-Gods. And, in their honour, they play a punky, high-energy, guitar-forward cover of Strutter. The way lead Guitarist Brian Bell moves his hands along the guitar is spellbinding. The fretboard is an extension of his arm, the sounds leave his hands and sit in the room in perfect harmony with all the other noise. It’s impossible to tell where that skilful ends and the hot-air of GA begins. Oh, and Bell whips out the double-necked electric in true KISS spirit – what an homage.
As a Green Album girlie until the bitter end, I swear I nearly popped a blood vessel when they launched into Photograph. This is the first full-band performance of the criminally underrated release since 2015. And it’s even better live. The insane visuals, Cuomos off-kilter vocals, and the pounding drums provided by Patrick Wilson bring this track to life. I feel like I’m in IMAX, but for sound.
Undone (The Sweater Song) is one of THE Weezer tracks. Starting out of nowhere, the melancholic, drifting, delayed opening notes are barely heard under the guttural screams of excitement for one of Blue Album’s most coveted. This song isn’t short, but it flies by. The foursome never seem to tire. They can just keep playing, perfectly, never easing up on themselves (or us). The energy never drops even for a moment. Cuomos and bassist Scott Shriner jump along the stage, one leg stretched in front of them, as Bell shreds the ultimate shred. Cuomos arms are a blur of strumming, he is absolutely caning his pale-green strat – but the pain is so worth the reward. The crowd is all hands, clapping predictably out of time, and people dance-shoving. As the music swells to its predicted finale – Cuomos puts his guitar to his mouth and starts playing with his teeth. Once he’s decided to give his enamel a break and the song finishes, he plants a big, loving kiss on the green body of The Little Guitar That Could.
Next up is an absolute highlight of the show. Rivers takes to the stage, alone. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, he starts to tell us a story of young love and heartbreak. The story goes something like this;
“I really liked this girl. She called me all the time, came to Christmases with my family- the whole thing. I thought she liked me too. One day, after we hung out she said she’s call me tomorrow. But she didn’t call. I waited by the phone the after that, too. And the next. By day 14 I realised she wasn’t going to call. So, on day 19 – I wrote this song.”
I didn’t recognise Waiting on You at first. Done just with an acoustic guitar, it sounded almost like a parody. Like Kill Me Please, from The Wedding Singer. It sounded like the very stereotype of sad 90’s Rock you’d expect. Where’s Matt Groening? Is this a Simpsons sketch?
Why? Haven’t you called me?
Did you forget me?
The Arena is alight with phone torches as Cuomos laments to us, fully aware of the comedy.
Mine, is the loneliest of numbers
Now, is the loneliest of times
You’re 19 days late
But still I sit and wait
The other three Weezer members come onstage and gather around the microphone. Barbershop quartet-style, they finish the lament. The house erupts with applause.
The next song is also a romantic lament of sorts. A ballad for Geffen Records Receptionist, Susanne hits even harder acoustic. Still gathered around the mic, it’s easy to see why Weezer disarmed and wooed this woman. They’re humble, talented, dressed in vans and baggy pants (Primo Skater Chic) at 55. Listen, Susanne, we get it,.Cuomos is beating out ‘Izzy, Slash and Axel Rose’ for her affections. This 5’6, hyperactive man is Geffen’s biggest Lover-Boy. As soon as they play, they transform. Roadies strap electric guitars onto Brian Bell, and we are treated to a wonderous ending of acoustic strums and electric licks. Suddenly they’re young again, somewhere else, and ultra-handsome.
We are showing them our appreciation. “Good on ya, Melbourne!” Some guy behind me, slurring and raspy screams back, “On ya, Rivers!”
“How is it? Chilling with The Weez at John Cain Arena.” The Weez. Said with such a tongue-in-cheek earnestness I can’t help but laugh. He’s an icom. The Master of The Shitpost.
Only In Dreams starts with River on acoustic for the first verse. Suddenly, they are all strapped with electrics again. And in a literal jump onstage – the tempo picks up. The visuals behind them are a waving red and purple. They are caning the shit out of their guitar strings. Shriner is a machine on bass. This song is so bass-heavy, and he has no issues being up to the task. Filling the room with warm, open, delicately layered bass with ease.
Of course, Island in The Sun gets a play. It’s so nostalgic, and wonderful. Everyone is out of their seats, swaying together, putting their arms up, singing. It’s like the final shot of a movie, where everything’s worked out. We’ve gotten into college, got the girl of our dreams and are watching fireworks on the beach. No notes, a perfect 10.
Growing up in Seattle, Washington. I am hard-wired to recognise Mount Rainier. And there it is. On the projection screen. We are driving through the cascades on this road-trip to the home of Grunge, of 90’s melancholia, of general antics and too-much noise. All My Favourite Songs gets Cuomos on keys. And he slaps them happily as we sing along. Lyrics that are so relevant, so painful. This 2021 release from Weezer shows that the band isn’t just a group of fossils peaking 30 years ago.
Cuomos openly hates Say it Aint So, so I was not expecting it to be played. But then that opening lick plays. And the sound that left my body was inhuman. He might hate it, but the song is one of the all-time greats. A Banger to End All Bangers. God-Tier. To save himself singing the chorus, he just stands – arms and legs spread, a starfish under 5 spotlights, as the pre-chorus lick goes and 11,000 of us, in perfect, ecstatic harmony scream:
“Say it aint so! Your drug is a heart breaker.
Say it aint so! My love is a life taker.”
My personal favourite part of the song, the bridge, is magical. The lights turn red and then purple and blue, and swirl around the foursome.
“This bottle of Stevens, awakens ancient feelings”
They start to slam on their strings and build until it’s all noise and 3 simultaneous solos that wind and weave and become alive together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. These songs I thought I knew, are so much more vivid in Weezer’s guiding hand.
“Are you guys enjoying the road trip?” Cuomos asks us. Does he even need to ask? He grins at the amount of noise we make in response. “It’s not a road trip ‘til dad takes a photo”. And he pulls out a polaroid. Referring to himself as Dad makes him even more likeable. If such a thing is possible. He snaps pics of all sides of the room and takes us into the end of the show.
Hash Pipe is such a phenomenal way to finish their main set. It’s aggressive, fast and punchy. The visuals of bats eyes, faded, bloodshot and spinning is such a great homage to the King’s of Stoner-Core. For the Guitar Hero friend next to me, it was a pretty huge closer.
Thank You and Good Night has our foursome standing on steps at the back of the stage, shredding together. I hate encores, but my fingers and toes are crossed for more.
And more is what we get.
The Waste Land is muddy, grungey and layered. They walk onstage and add to its layers one by one until we are carried on an almighty wave of perfect sound. Black Sabbath are pissing their pants a little with this one.
Surf Wax America is so quintessentially Weezer. It’s jumpy, fun and best shared at a barbeque. Blue Album remains one of the best in any genre, because of its versatility. This is not the same band they were just one song ago. But I am loving it. We all sing off-key, delighted and carefree.
A testament to the absolute mountain of songs Weezer has in their arsenal, is a major hit I had completely forgotten about in the fun and the fervour. Buddy Holly. Everyone’s favourite Spike Jonze music video. A staple in the Weezer canon. It’s amazing for one of a band’s major hits to have escaped my mind because I was so enraptured by everything they had going on. These guys could play one chord and I’d be spellbound. Another Blue Album staple, we are quick to show our adoration. The video in the background is of people roller-skating around. And while we can’t roller-skate, we can dance. And dance we do. With fun little licks, delightful harmonies and a beat that’s impossible not to move to – this song really has it all.
At this point, they’ve proven they’re an unbeatable unit with unbelievable, untranscribable skill. But it’s fucking ridiculous they played for 2 hours with no mistakes. Oh, what I’d give to bottle those 2 hours and live there.
Buddy Holly packs a punch, and so they leave us stunned, thrilled, desperate for another forgotten-hit. I’m in a daze, and this was 2 days ago. You could not ask for a better night.
If Weezer have 1 fan it’s me if they have no fans I’m dead. I love you Weezer. And you would too. Buy tickets next time, I promise you’ll leave happier, bouncier and beachier. And maybe just a little bit stoned.