There’s a ball at the Roseland tonight here in Manhattan. Not your typical dressed-to-the-nines soirée of old—ladies in silk gowns, men in tuxedos, light dinnertime jazz. No, tonight’s gala brings a throng of kids dressed in flannel shirts, too-tight-to-fit Ts, secondhand sweaters, black-framed glasses and worn-through jeans. And Weezer is the house band.
With their giant “W” flashing behind them like a Christmas tree, Weezer dives straight into “Tired of Sex” from quintessential sadcore album, Pinkerton, the young crowd doubling lead singer Rivers Cuomo on every word. At the song’s conclusion, Cuomo, who hasn’t moved an inch from his position at center stage since the crunch of the opening note, shyly whispers, “welcome to our show.” A short pause follows with a huge roar from the crowd. Then the band pounds through old Blue Album favorites “In The Garage” (with guitarist Brian Bell on harmonica), “No One Else,” and the obvious crowd favorite, “Buddy Holly.” The band continues with the apologetic “Pardon Me,” a track from their latest album, Make Believe, the Green Album gem, “Photograph,” and their strongest new cut, “Hold Me,” a loud-soft-loud tune that’s straight out of the mid-’90s grunge scene from which Weezer materialized.
“I’m gonna step back, and Brian’s gonna sing a song,” Cuomo says, smiling, then looking over at Bell and the crowd embarrassedly. Cuomo literally steps back, while Bell takes the reigns on “Getchoo.” Bell, a fine singer in his own right, gives it a slightly slower tempo but seems to be doing little more than his best Rivers Cuomo impression. The song, however, rocks just as hard as it would with Cuomo singing (and drummer Pat Wilson sings close harmonies from behind the drum kit he’s absolutely abusing). After standing in the shadows for the entire song, Cuomo steps back into place at center stage and strums the opening riff of “Say It Ain’t So.” At this point, the people in the crowd are hitting every word at the top of their lungs—even giving Weezer a mini-ovation after the first chorus. During the guitar solo, which is perfect in its simplicity, Cuomo stares at the ceiling, seemingly enjoying every note just as much as the crowd is. At the beginning of the following song, another newbie called “We Are All On Drugs,” a female fan throws an unidentified article of lingerie on stage. Weezer bassist, Scott Shriner, looks at the small heap of clothing for half a second, then continues pounding his bass. Now that’s true musicianship.
The set’s climax happens during a sickeningly good “My Name Is Jonas.” The opening is played on a clean-toned Gibson Les Paul, the crowd ebbing and flowing to every beat, before the build up—“the workers are going home, the workers are going home”—transforms the crowd into a frothing pit of pandemonium. When the guitar solo explodes and the tempo speeds up to double-time, the crowd become a blur of bodies and flailing arms.
Weezer comes back after a short break for an encore, playing “Undone (The Sweater Song),” complete with the dialogic party-time vocals from the album version, performed by bassist Shriner (doing the female voice) and guitarist Bell (doing the male voice). The last song is “The Good Life,” and why not? Life is good. In fact, it’s so damned good that at the song’s conclusion, Cuomo and Shriner stay on stage for five more minutes—backs to the screaming audience, their guitars and bodies up against their giant amplifiers, letting the sweet reverberations of feedback soak through as long as possible. The night ends as the two leave the stage, their guitars still feeding-back into oblivion.