Live Review: Weezer Tie in the Old and New in Charlotte

Weezer photo by Leslie Leonard

Charlotte, NC
Weezer with The Pixies and Sleigh Bells at PNC Music Pavilion

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Aptly the Blue Album comes on at the coffee shop as I begin to write about Weezer’s excellent show in Charlotte Wednesday night.

I didn’t know what to expect from a Weezer show in 2018. I, like many Weezer fans draw a divide in the band’s catalogue where we quit becoming regular listeners of the newer material to put in nicely. Where exactly is that divide? For a lot of fans the first divide was after their self-titled debut release, but then fans came around to Pinkerton. For some it’s post Maladroit and early 2000’s Weezer. For me personally though, I’ve given everything a fighting chance. I dug Make Believe, but didn’t love it and after that other than the White Album, which I really liked, I’ve had trouble liking the new music from one of my favorite bands. A band that shaped my musical taste, the way I play guitar and write music myself. A band that both alienated me with Pinkerton and forced me to listen on repeat and stick with an album before it opened itself to me and became one of my favorites.

This wasn’t my first Weezer show, nor my first time seeing them in an amphitheater. When they played Atlanta at the turn of the century I snuck in hours early to hear them soundcheck through Pink Triangle and a couple of other Pinkerton era tunes. I remember the security guy that escorted us out being excited that we got to enjoy that soundcheck, but he needed to do his job and we understood. We were Weezer fans after all, not asshole punk Korn or 311 fans. The last time I saw them in Charlotte was also quite a long time ago, but memorable for the fact that fans pulled the boards off the ice hockey rink below and were crowd surfing on top of them. The Get Up Kids and Ozma opened.

Side note, the Blue album is still playing at the coffee shop and it’s at “In the Garage.” A customer asked who it was, the barista replied Weezer and the customer replied by asking if it was a b-side. The customer is a younger guy, so I completely understand this and happen to love this about Weezer. That a younger generation can be introduced to Weezer through their cover of “Africa” and be led back to the Blue Album and Pinkerton. Honestly, they’d probably hate Pinkerton for the most part unless they understood who they were, and who Rivers Cuomo was when he wrote that album. 

If you think all of that extraneous information about my Weezer fandom is irrelevant it’s kind of the point. Weezer understands me. My favorite band growing up understands me. How do I know?

Photo by Leslie Leonard

At 9:45 PM on Wednesday the curtain covering the stage dropped to reveal an old fashioned W, pre =w=, and the set of Arnold’s mimicking the “Buddy Holly” video that sent the band into the stratosphere. It was late 1994 just in time for a mix of Gen X and Millenials to get the Blue Album for Christmas. “Buddy Holly” wasn’t the first single, but it was THE single. As confetti blew from the rafters just before the guitar solo, Weezer was off to a strong start. That did not let up all night.

Side note two, the same customer just came back to ask what the song playing was, that he really liked it. The song playing is “Only in Dreams” and the barista replied that “it’s still playing Weezer…”.

They blew through “Buddy Holly” and onto “Beverly Hills”, a hit that tied in the modern Weezer right off the bat. Then onto “Pork and Beans”, where I wrote in my notes that the band was 3-3 so far.

At this point, I’m still thinking that I’m going to hate this set list. I’m thoroughly unconvinced that they’d created a set list for a fan like me, but catered more towards post 2005 Weezer fans. I’m wrong, they power forward through the “Sweater Song” and “Hashpipe”. At this point I’m fully invested. They’re not letting up. They’re not even taking time to switch guitars. Rivers is playing his classic strat and wearing his sweater vest and the crowd is locked in. They can’t keep this up can they??

Photo by Leslie Leonard

It’s not until after “Perfect Situation” and “My Name is Jonas” that they even take a breath. There’s a quick wardrobe change as Rivers loses the sweater vest just in time for “El Scorcho”. This can’t be real can it? They know what they’re doing. Locking in old fans, introducing newer fans to the older material. Really mixing it up and playing their best tunes spanning close to 30 years.

That’s when Weezer takes us back, with “In the Garage” the stage set changes like they’re back in the garage, Kiss poster and all. From here on out Weezer is just having fun. We get “Surf Wax America” next, and then “Happy Together” by The Turtles. There’s a medley referencing Green Day’s “Longview”, a wardrobe change again as Rivers turns into Captain Cuomo donning a sailor cap and sailing (on a razor scooter?) into the crowd to perform “Island in the Sun” and “Take on Me” by Aha both acoustic. On his way back to the stage the band jammed out “Burnt Jam” and a short reference to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as Cuomo rips out his Gibson Flying V and cutoff Nirvana tee to play “I Want You To”. Honestly, this is the first time I had to look up a song title, and it’s one that is painfully obvious. After “In the Garage” it was really a set for the modern Weezer fans until the encore.

They play “Feels Like Summer”, dropping a flaming =w= from the sky and play their latest social media fueled hit single “Africa”. I’m more than satisfied as a Weezer fan, texting all my doubter friends that they missed out. But then they come out and debut “Pink Triangle” on this tour and close with “Say it Ain’t So” and a little “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath.

My voice is gone and I’m smiling.