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January 22, 2018

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Loving Weezer—then and now


Nathan Ludens

Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo rocks out at Red Rock.

About a decade ago, back during my emo teenage years, I created the first community dedicated to Weezer. I also created a community called “Cuomosexuals” focused solely on lead singer Rivers Cuomo. Needless to say, I was obsessed with Weezer. It was probably a little unhealthy.

At the time, the band’s eponymous Green Album had just dropped, and MTV had “Hash Pipe” on heavy rotation. I liked the song—it was angry music for kids who still mostly listened to their parents—but not enough to take that love to the Internet. That intense devotion came only after I connected with a different album: Pinkerton.

The 1996 album spoke to me—it still does now. Like most longtime Weezer fans and music critics, I consider it the peak of the group’s talent and musical influence. I was one of the sea of fans belting out “Tired of Sex” and “El Scorcho” at the top of my lungs at the Joint during their Memories tour, the one perfect night in which they played Pinkerton and the Blue Album in full.

It could be all this deep, personal connection I have with the band’s earlier music forces me to forgive them for their subsequent shortcomings, like all the calculated radio hits and their apparent inability to say no to any kind of promotion. (No joke: A Weezer Cruise sets sail in January.) I could be nothing more than a battered housewife attempting to excuse the inexcusable.

But I don’t think so.

Click to enlarge photo

Weezer performs at Red Rock Casino

The sold-out crowd at Red Rock Pool on Friday night suggests otherwise, too. A good chunk of this 16-and-up crowd doesn’t seem know the Pinkerton or Blue Album tunes, and if they do they aren’t differentiating between them and the post-glory day singles like “Perfect Situation” or “Beverly Hills.” The screaming before “Tired of Sex” isn’t any louder than before “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” and when the band kicks into “My Name is Jonas,” the guy behind me shouts, “I want to play Rock Band!” All of this makes me want to groan and roll my eyes in Weezer snobbery. Yet, I am here and without knowing it I seem to know most of the words to “Pork and Beans.” So, Weezer must be doing something right. There must still be value here.

That value is in the stage presence and energy of the band. The band—Cuomo especially—seem more at ease and far happier onstage today than they did years ago. Far from the days when Cuomo refused to play tracks off Pinkerton, the band has reached a point where it knows that the crowd is here to hear their hits—all of them—and they are more than happy to oblige. They do it with a smile. When Cuomo jumps off the stage and into one of Red Rock’s shallow pools with a dozen or so excited fans, it is nothing short of dorky, fun and irreverent—everything Weezer was, when they weren’t whining about half-Japanese girls.

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