Weezer at the Basilica Block Party, 7/9/10
Photos by Tony Nelson
There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of Weezer lately (Vita.mn ran not one but two separate articles reflecting on the band's enduring popularity/relevance last week). By the time the band took the stage at Friday night's sold-out Basilica Block Party, however, at least one thing was certain: A whole lot of people have a whole lot of love for Weezer.
The main complaint frequently lodged against the band is fairly straightforward: In the '90s, they were hip, ahead-of-the-curve, and quaintly lo-fi; by the '00s, their songs became increasingly short, poppy, and, sin of all sins, were more focused on partying than angst. But hasn't Weezer always maintained a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic? Even their earlier work and their much-loved breakout ("The Blue Album") was a sort of pop culture parody of the heavy, emotional-wrought alt-rock of the day; hell, even first music video, "Buddy Holly," placed the band on the set of Happy Days and laid the foundation for the band's alluring and easily ingested nerd-chic aesthetic.
But back to the Basilica show: All of these thoughts started swimming around in my sun-soaked brain on Friday night because, much as we'd like to debate Weezer's relevance on paper and bandy back and forth philosophically about their artistic integrity and intent, the fact is that 95 percent of the people who turned out to see the band perform their headlining set do not care about these things at all. And more power to them, because by the time I finally got up to the front of the stage to watch Rivers Cuomo race around like a manic, I didn't care about these things either.
Remember fun? Let's have some!
Photos by Tony Nelson
Let's not over-think this too much: Weezer was there to have fun, and the crowd drank it in like so much cheap beer. Live, the songs from different points in their career sounded natural played back-to-back, with even their most trite hits like "Beverly Hills" taking on a new bounce and swagger in the live setting. Cuomo was in top form, his nerdy aesthetic now warped into something slightly older yet equally awkward, like an accounting clerk on a sugar buzz. At one point, Cuomo eyed a tall video camera tripod and shook it to see if it was sturdy before wrapping his legs around it and scurrying up the pole like an eager koala. At another point, he reached into the audience and grabbed a green flower headband off a girl's head, parading around with it in his hair for an entire song. The band kicked giant beach balls into the crowd while thousands upon thousands of people sang along with every word of every song.
Just as I was thinking about how much better of a choice Weezer is for a summer festival headlining act than, say, someone with the energy of MGMT, the band busted into a buoyant and cheeky cover of "Kids" and I just had to burst out laughing. The point was driven home all the harder when Cuomo darted backstage and came back sporting a platinum blond wig, splicing in snippets of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" with their take on MGMT's big hit. It was a hilarious moment completely lacking in self-seriousness or irony. Weezer know how to party. Let's not hold that against them.
For more photos, see our complete slideshow from Friday night by Tony Nelson.
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