Weezer's Hits Hit the Spot at Revention

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Weezer, Judah and the Lion
Revention Music Center
December 7, 2016

Being consistently brilliant is hard. Most acts, if they stick around, eventually record that album with the songs that leave you scratching your head, wondering where it all went wrong. It can color our perception of everything that came before, making us second-guess ourselves when it comes to everything we thought we knew about a band we love.

Rivers Cuomo is a genius. Sure, Weezer has released many albums of questionable material at this point, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s written some of the best pop rock gems of all time. A Hurley here and there doesn’t mean “Say It Ain’t So” isn’t transcendently good; it just means you can’t always expect human beings to achieve greatness at all times.

That includes the live setting, and at Revention Music Center, Rivers didn’t do himself any favors fighting those who think the emperor has no clothes. He sounded disconnected from his songs all night, and rather than finding the emotional core of any of them, he would just sing louder when the words were supposed to matter more. It gave the whole show a lackadaisical feel; the band may have been playing at full speed, but when Rivers was at the mike, it felt like things were moving a step or two too slow.

It is a credit to his strength as a songwriter that despite this criticism, it wasn’t a bad show. It was perfectly fine, nostalgia keeping the fans engaged and singing along for everything but the stuff of their latest self-titled record (which is better than you think, most likely). Those new songs, with the exception of opener “California Kids,” came across well live, with “Friend of a Friend” making its live premiere and “Thank God For Girls” being one of the few times in the show Rivers really felt alive.

Sure, it was a bummer that they didn’t play anything off of Pinkerton, but this show wasn’t about being a Weezer deep dive (although it’s always nice when “My Name Is Jonas” makes an appearance); it was about the warm glow of nostalgia as Winter finally arrives. Discussions about greatness? That’s just stuff for critics and diehard fans to overthink. Everyone else just wants to sing along to some truly great songs. And Rivers has a bunch of those, and when your songs are as good as his, you don’t have to be brilliant live every night. Fine shows are okay too.

So, How Was the Opener? I’m not going to bash Judah and the Lion. It’s tempting, because they sound like a mixture of so much of what I dislike in modern “rock,” but by the time their set was over, I had respect for them. Their sound isn’t for me, but I was impressed by how hard they try to put on a good show. From the moment they took the stage, not only did things not feel phoned in, it felt like they were giving their all to make their 30 minutes count. I think they have a bright future ahead of them; I’m already imaging all the fests I’ll complain about their being at. Good on them.

Personal Bias: The crowd singing along to the solo in "Say It Ain't So" the first time I played Rock Band is one of my favorite video game moments of all time.

The Crowd: More Matt Sharp than Karl Koch.

Overheard In the Crowd: “I was just about to ask if that was considered appropriation,” my +1 told me on the subject of Rivers Cuomo donning a sombrero for “Beverly Hills.”

Random Notebook Dump: I almost saw my second fight at a show this year – things got wild after Kanye West came to town — but cooler heads prevailed in the end. Two bodies collided, beer was spilled and tempers flared, but in the end the two guys involved decided not to get into a fight while Weezer played a gentle version of “Island in the Sun” in the background. I was so bummed; I was absolutely ready to yell, “Worldstar!”

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