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February 22, 2002
Vol. 43 No. 16

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Weezer lacks skill in concert

Rivers Cuomo is the most socially introverted rock star performing today. As the Weezer front man took the stage Feb. 12 at Bryce Jordan Center, he sported a mountain man beard and a bubble vest. It was difficult to tell if he just came off a bender or merely needed a break from Weezer's Hyper Extended Midget Tour. Nonetheless, the crowd cheered, ready for Weezer's harmless sunny-day rock.

Opening acts, Ozma and Saves the Day, provided a nice warm-up for the crowd. Ozma's fast set-list and Blink-182-style riffs played well to the crowd of teen-age po-mo punks. The mosh pit began spewing surfers onto the floor during the Saves the Day set, breaking the crowd barrier at one point.

After a lengthy wait of 45 minutes or so, Weezer finally took the stage. Guitarist Brian Bell was decked out in a flowery, pink, thrift-shop shirt. Drummer Pat Wilson waved to the audience, his hair slicked back as always. Compared with the rest of the band, new bassist Scott Schriner looked ripped, buff enough to be with Slipknot rather than Weezer.

Cuomo led the band into the smooth opening riffs to "Island In the Sun." It was a glossy, near studio-reproduction of the song that was all too brief.

"Dope Nose," the first single off their forthcoming April release, "Maladroit," opened with a raw, dirty guitar chomp before Cuomo, Bell and Schriner added a sugared melody. The band played three other tracks off the new album.

The bouncy chords of "Keep Fishin'" showed Weezer in prime form. The song's rough edge pulled fans in, perhaps giving them hope that the band is slowly making a return to "Pinkerton"-era Weezer.

"Pinkerton" has achieved cult status among the band's fans. While being critically panned when it was released in 1996, fans slowly began identifying with the emotional album; obviously Cuomo's most personal as a songwriter. The album was also Weezer at their most musically experimental, clearly playing what they wanted to make rather than a carbon of their debut "The Blue Album."

The themes of isolation, reclusion, failed love and alienation are so personal for Cuomo that he often shies away from performing the songs live. On this night, however, the fans did get a rare treat of two tracks off the album, "Tired of Sex" and "Why Bother?"

The crowd reaction was strongest for "Blue Album," staples like "Say It Ain't So," "Undone (The Sweater Song)" and "In the Garage." The pop perfection of the power-chords on "My Name is Jonas" was the most popular for the crowd.

For the encore, Weezer brought out the old stand-by, "Buddy Holly," their biggest hit to date. With tongue firmly in cheek, a large, Kiss-style "W" descended from the rafters, burning bright above Wilson's drum kit.

The band closed with the summery guitar flows of "Surf Wax America." Smoke flooded the stage and one-by-one the band members walked off. Eventually, only Cuomo was left, distorting his guitar into hard, chopper-like sounds. More smoke came, the guitar got louder. Suddenly there was silence, the smoke cleared and Cuomo was gone. Not even a "thank you, goodnight."

How appropriate is it that the band's new album is titled "Maladroit?" The word is defined as lacking skill. With eccentrics to spare and the sing-along melodies of his songs, Cuomo is giving Brian Wilson a run for his money. Like pre-"Pet Sounds" Beach Boys, Weezer isn't breaking musical ground but simply making marvelous power-pop.


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