Ed. Note: Much more on Summer Fest to come throughout the day.
MORE OF SUMMER FEST Reviews: Summer Fest Saturday: A Sizzler With Beirut, Big Boi, Black Joe, Fucked Up, Sharon Jones, Ween & More Summer Fest Sunday: Peak Fun With B L A C K I E, Hayes Carll, Guitar Wolf, Yeasayer, Robert Ellis & More
Weezer Free Press Summer Fest Eleanor Tinsley Park June 5, 2011
For almost two hours on Sunday night, Weezer led a sea of thousands through some of the saddest and happiest times of their lives an their 18-song set of hits from their 19 years of activity. It's hard to do justice to a band that means so much to so many, especially one that acted like a Band-Aid to those of us with fragile yet huge hearts.
If the Flaming Lips at last year's Summer Fest turned Houston into a loving glowing orb in the hands of Wayne Coyne, Weezer's set shoved us all into the pop-brain of lead singer Rivers Cuomo, back into your old teen bedroom for some real talk surrounded by your closest friends.
Weezer first came around at a time most of today's late twentysomethings were just forming their emotional temperatures. 1994's "Blue Album" hit us with ten straight songs, all of which could have made singles in their own right, even operatic closer "Only In Dreams," which - with a few edits - could have been the jilted romantic modern-rock radio equivalent of "Stairway To Heaven" for kids in hoodies that seem to guard them from the vicious world.
The follow-up, 1996's Pinkerton, was the Sgt. Pepper of Gen-Y heartache; the album that you loved at first listen, but as your life got weirder and the ones that you wanted to love and to love you back grew distant, or become more ever more nonexistent, turned into a hulking, tear-stained beast. It didn't matter that the album was about a damned half-Japanese girl, or Madame Butterfly. For fans, it was about them personally. It soundtracked your confusion.
After a hiatus and 2000's comeback, Weezer went to work on solidifying how great those two albums were with a collection of albums that kept making us long for them. It's almost scientific. Older fans scoff that they peaked at Pinkerton, and that what they sing in the 21st century means nothing to them. Everyone else doesn't care as long it has a good beat you can tap on your steering wheel to.
So in a sense Weezer turns into that unattainable boy or girl that you can't pin down, that made you love the band in the first place. You were married in your mind to Weezer, but married in your mind is no good. You've spent years remembering that one lost night, weekend or year, and that's all you have is memories.
It takes balls to open a set with the unassuming "Undone (The Sweater Song)" like Weezer did Sunday night. The set list that followed was seemingly tailor-made for every hater that accumulated over social media the past few months since Weezer was announced as headliners.
The band gave you everything you wanted, as a spry Cuomo who couldn't be contained onstage (and probably took some tips from B L A C K I E's set earlier in the day).
The newest song they played would have been "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To from 2009's Raditude, and they would end up playing eight of the ten songs from The Blue Album, only leaving off "Holiday" and "No One Else." In a sense Houston, we got half of the famed "Blinkerton" set, but with only two songs from Pinkerton.
Not too bad, unless you were really wanting to wrench out a tear to "Pink Triangle" into your beer. We were.
The best surprise of the night was "Susanne," a B-side that made it onto the Mallrats soundtrack, and also the deluxe edition of Blue. The second-best gem of the night was the pop-rock perfection of "Perfect Situation" from 2005's Make Believe, which is the most "classic Weezer" song that Weezer has made since those first two albums, plus it's got those badass "whoa-whoas" that had all of Eleanor Tinsley Park howling.
A cover of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" was expected from looking at recent set lists, but made more an amusement than an added bonus. We could have used Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart" instead. But still, Cuomo knocked Thom Yorke's vocals out of the park. And, of course, that cover made us think about how great a Radiohead set would be in 2012 on the same stage.
"Pork And Beans" came second to last in the main set, and the single from 2008's "Red Album" is easily the most tolerable of Cuomo's recent concoctions, with that Rogaine line hitting ever close to home. What sells us on it was that titanic riff-work, a welcome leftover from the band's not-so-ironic metal period around Maladroit.
As the band was ending, or generously drawing out the ending of, set closer "Buddy Holly," a huge fireworks display from near the Jamail Skate Park struck into the night sky, thrilling everyone in the crowd, and making the evening and weekend end all that much more a sweet note.
Couples were kissing under the smoke, friends hugged and cheered, guys were spilling the last of their beers, and a few people had misty eyes as the fiery display hit its grand finale. Somewhere in there, Weezer walked offstage and let Houston have its little moment of bliss after spending two days in the rain, heat, stink, dirt, and did we mention the heat?
Yes, Weezer did us right.
Personal Bias: Sixth grade, had a cassette copy of The Blue Album. Hooked on those pop hooks for life. We still turn up "Say It Ain't So" when it comes on the radio.
The Crowd: Probably more people were here for Weezer than were in the same place for Flaming Lips last year. High school nostalgia is a helluva drug.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Are they going to play "Beverly Hills" tonight?" No, they are not.
Random Notebook Dump: Not to sound like an ass, but we really wanted to hear "Tired of Sex" as an opener, but you wish in one hand...
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