NEW YORK, NY—For a band that’s been on-again off-again more times than anyone remembers, Weezer’s stage presence and group dynamics at Madison Square Garden worked so well their performance perfectly masked the group’s very tumultuous and colourful 16-year-long history. The countless line-up changes, band member fall-outs and even record label spats that have plagued these guys over the years had no impact on the quality of performance served up to their diehard fans who had been counting down to this much-anticipated gig.
Opening with “My Name Is Jonas” and dressed in white jumpsuits and sneakers, the L.A. rockers set the calibre and craziness of the performance they wanted to deliver from the word go. While the crowd was quickly on its feet, jumping, screaming and cheering, the band’s energy was surprisingly lacking through the first quarter of their show. Rather than being out of sync, I think it was more a case of finding their feet at their first MSG headlining performance, which bass player Scott Shriner said was a huge deal. “New York Madison Square Garden… It is truly a dream,” he told the crowd. But once they found their groove, there was no stopping them.
Weezer boasted all of the charm that’s been at the core of its success over the years; infectious pop, killer melodies, cheeky and outrageous lyrics and frontman Rivers Cuomos’ electrifying and amazing guitar solos. Performing for at least 90 minutes, Weezer had plenty of very cool and calculated party tricks up their sleeve. In fact, a ton of effort went into ensuring that fans walked away with the impression that this band was one of the industry’s wackiest. After the first three songs they changed costumes, transforming from test-tube geek rockers into an even nerdier attire, sporting red jumpsuits and a mini trampoline on stage. The witty, talented and bizarre Cuomo, who greeted fans in Spanish and Italian before he uttered any English, made a point of sharing the spotlight with all of his band buddies, giving them each time to shine and connect with the huge crowd. Part-way through their set Cuomo invited the guys from the gig’s opening act, Angels And Airwaves, on stage to sing “Undone (The Sweater Song).” With frontman Tom DeLonge (Blink-182) performing in black pants and a leather jacket alongside the bright and bubbly Weezer boys, it looked more like a humorous piss-take than a genuine duet. But the biggest Weezer wow factor came towards the end of their gig when a crowd armed with an array of instruments including flutes, clarinets, tambourines and even an Australia didgeridoo, started pouring on to the stage. “We wanted to try something a little different,” Cuomo told the audience. “We’ve invited about 30 or so of New York’s finest Weezer fans (on stage).” And with that, they performed instrumentally rich versions of “Island In The Sun” and “Beverly Hills.”
Other crowd favorites were “Pink Triangle,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Pork and Beans,” “Troublemaker,” “El Scorcho” and their closing track “Buddy Holly.” While too much effort can be off- putting, at a band’s first MSG gig, it’s understandable that every step of their performance would be planned and accounted for. My big question is why did Weezer feel the need to try so hard to establish—or maintain—a reputation which is already very much its own? More than seven million Weezer records have moved off store shelves and into the hearts of their U.S. fans already—which is evidence they’ve carved a niche name for themselves and have developed an utterly committed fan base. Ultimately though, I’m not complaining. I expected a mad, wild and insane show and Weezer undoubtedly delivered.