Friday, July 23, 2010

Weezer at 2010 Basilica Block Party - Concert Review

On Friday, July 9th, I crossed off one of the top priority items from my bucket list by attending the 2010 Basilica Block Party in the Twin Cities and seeing Weezer perform on stage.

The set kicked off with "Hash Pipe", a great choice for it's catchy guitar hook. Dun-dun-DUH-naa, dun-dun-DUH-naa... You knew you in for a hell of a show with that opening riff. After that, Weezer's true colors revealed themselves with the next song, "Troublemaker". Rivers Cuomo was singing lead WITHOUT a guitar, so he started started climbing the stage set onto speakers.

I felt a little ashamed watching his antics. I've always considered Weezer to be "geek rock", for the way my fellow geeks have embraced these guys as one of our own. The look, the attire, the meticulous attention to detail, their music evolution throughout their seven-album catalog. But that night, Rivers seemed more like a dork (heck, they all did with guitarist Brian Bell in a polo shirt, Rivers in his red jacket over the top of a polo shirt, bassist Scott Shriner in a brown kilt, and drummer/guitarist Patrick Wilson in a faded gray T-shirt and plaid green and blue shorts) with how he was flailing his arms around while "dancing" and belting out the lyrics. As the song came to an end, he tried to take one of the production crews' cameras and hoist it up on his shoulder, with mic still in hand and singing the last few lines. Someone should have given that kid a guitar...

The rest of the night continued in mostly the same manner as they played a nice variety of songs from the Blue Album to Raditude. After being troublemakers, Weezer charged through Undone (The Sweater Song) and Surf Wax America, to a "medley" of Trippin' Down the Freeway and Keep Fishin'. I use quotes there because they only did a few lines from Keep Fishin'. I wish they would have played more of that song. It's one of my top five favorite Weezer songs (if you want to know why, check out the music video).

After that medley, they played Perfect Situation, and then Dope Nose, with Scott taking on the lead vocals for Rivers. Over the last several years, from about Make Believe onward, Weezer has shifted away from being a Rivers-ocracy towards involving the rest of the band more in the performance and authoring process. That's a good thing. Scott, Brian, Patrick and are all very talented musicians in their own rights, and they bring a nice contrast to both Rivers' musical and lyrical style. I would have liked to seen more of this, maybe next time.

Next on the setlist was one of Weezer's crown jewels: Say It Ain't So. For most of the night, and ESPECIALLY during this song, I sang along at the top of my voice. This was also one of the first songs where Rivers was playing guitar while he sang (a VERY NICE white Gibson SG). After they finished this song, the rest of the band took a bit of a break while Rivers switched to an acoustic guitar and started out with a solo performance of Island in the Sun. This was a cool and collected performance, but as soon as Rivers completed the second chorus and went into the bridge, the rest of the band joined back in and turned it back up to 11. An excellent job kicking the show back into high gear, almost like a second wind.

After some Can't Stop Partying action, there was some more intra-band collaboration when Brian and Rivers shared the duties of lead vocals on El Scorcho. They played My Name Is Jonas, then made the turn at third and started bring it home by going to their bread and butter of their more recent hits, Beverly Hills and Pork and Beans, the lead singles off Make Believe and the Red Album, respectively.

They finished their set with a two-song medley. I didn't recognize the first half, so I made a note of the lyric "control yourself, take only what you need" to look it up online later. I found out it was MGMT's Kids. I'd never heard of it before, but after listening to their original version, I think Weezer did a better job with it than they did. The second part of that medley stabbed me in the back. Lady Gaga's Pokerface. Ugh, now I was REALLY embarrassed. I don't care for most pop stars from the last ten years, and even less of those who dress in ridiculous costumes like she does. But again, Weezer made an improvement over her version of that song.

The show was over after this final song. Or was it? No, of course not. Weezer came back on stage a couple minutes later to perform (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To, the lead single off their most recent album, Raditude. Finally, THE Weezer song, Buddy Holly. And that was it, more than an hour and a half later. A very solid, balanced setlist from their 18 years together.

A few things to nitpick on after it was over. They only played one song from Pinkerton. I would have loved another one from that album, like Falling for You or maybe Why Bother?. As I mentioned before, they should have also played Keep Fishin' in its entirety. A little more Patrick Wilson; he seemed a little too quiet for the goofball he can be (check out the Photograph music video; there's a guy who really enjoys life). And I can never get enough Weezer. I wish they could have played a few more songs, at least enough to fill up another 20-30 minutes.

Overall, I give the concert a 9.5 out of 10. There was very little filler between songs, and they touched upon many of the top-tier tunes. I had been worried that I would have never seen my favorite band perform live after the bus accident last winter that almost took Rivers from us. I don't have to worry anymore; I'm as good as he and the rest of was on stage that evening.

Monday, July 5, 2010

You guys could learn a thing or two...

Even though Weezer is and will forever be my favorite band, and I fell head over heels in love with The Donnas last Labor Day, I really think Green Day is the team to beat now.

If Green Day continues the musical and commercial success they've had over the last 12 months, the bands in my top two could fall out of their respective rankings. How can Weezer and The Donnas solidify their spots? Easy, just borrow from Green Day's playbook.

For example, Rivers Cuomo and the rest of Weezer should go back to Songs From the Black Hole. This album was planned as the follow up to the Blue Album, but the idea eventually fell apart and the end result was Pinkerton (which itself was a good album, but not the immediate commercial success that the Blue Album was, and more or less caused Cuomo to disappear from the scene for a few years). With the success of the American Idiot musical on Broadway, maybe it's time for Weezer to go back to that fountain. They can make it work, Rivers is just a musical genius, and I'm sure he and a broadway director would hammer out a damn good show.

As for The Donnas, they should also release their own Rock Band title. I love playing Green Day: Rock Band, even more than Rock Band 2. I realize that The Donnas: Rock Band is probably more of an EA decision than anyone else's, but I've thought most of this out. Three of the four venues would be Hugh Center Court at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, CA, site of their first performance when they were still in the eighth grade; the auditorium hosting the battle of the bands in the Take It Off music video; and Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, site of Desert Moon 2, the holy grail of live Donnas performances. As for the song list, I think there'd be significant overlap with this sampler platter playlist and the DM2 setlist. I don't think you'd have full albums like GDRB, but definitely 4-5 songs from every single album they've released (might be a little tricky, though, since The Donnas have been on 3 separate record labels in their 17-year history).

I really can't make it any simpler than that. You have your orders, so get to work. :D
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