On Twitter just now, Weezer announced yet another self titled album. For the album, they announced a co-headlining tour with Panic! At the Disco and another track from the album, “King of the World.” The new album will be released on April 1st. Apparently, this isn’t a joke. This is their “White” album, along with the self titled Red (2008) , Green (2001) and Blue (1994) albums.
Another two tracks from the album, “Do You Wanna Get High” and “Thank God for Girls” were leaked in the fourth quarter of 2015. Below is their single and music video, “King of the World”:
Here’s what I think about Weezer and Rivers Cuomo:
Weezer are one of the most confusing acts in rock. At one point seen as alternative, at one point (pop) punk, and at another purely ironic, but what is Weezer? I think I learned what Weezer is, but it’s not so simple to explain, so here are 1,000 words.
Weezer was one of the my seminal bands growing up, both as a person and a musician. My first band at 14 was founded on, among other things, on a common appreciation of Weezer. It’s an exciting time to be a Weezer fan because the new album, Everything Will Be Alright in The End, holds up to the classic Weezer formula, reinventing their sound while sticking close to their roots of emotional integrity and intensity, and staying strong in spirit. Their latest albums, Hurley and Raditude, exhibited Weezer’s most radical departures from their half-comforting, half-self-depreciating muse established by Cuomo in favor more tongue-in-cheek hedonist songs resulting from collaborations of Cuomo with other artists, ranging from Lil Wayne, hit songwriters Desmond Child and Mac Davis, and various producers from distinct genres, a pattern of artistic creation that compromises of most of the songwriting credits for the Hurley and Raditude albums. Everything Will Be Alright in The End also features some artistic collaborations from other artists, but the collaborations plays second to the material composed by Cuomo and the other Weezer members.
This show, at Santa Ana’s Observatory, was extremely packed. The line rounded through the parking lot, and I managed to slip in conveniently through the front with my press and photo pass. No opener, but it was a good hour before Rivers emerged. Most interesting was Rivers’ nonchalant carousing through the bar and surrounding area. Some people in the crowd shouted, “Rivers!”, but to no response, to anyone. I even walked with Rivers for a minute trying to get him to say a word. He didn’t say anything. I politely told him how influential his music was to me growing up, and then decided to leave him alone. He recognized me in the same way a mime blankly half-looks at passer-byers. As the tour program lists Cuomo’s name simply as “Sebastian – Lead vocals, guitars,” Cuomo’s appearance was consistent with the ironic anonymity he was trying to surround the tour with. Of course, when on stage it was clearly Rivers in classic fashion.
Shortly after 9PM, Cuomo came on to start the promised 9 song acoustic set. At first it was just Cuomo onstage, opening the show with obscure Pinkerton B-side, ‘You Gave Your Love To Me Softly,’ a perfect choice to start with. At the second song, ‘Why Bother?’, guitarist Brian Bell joined stage, sharing lead vocals with Rivers interchangeably with the verses. Next was bassist Scott Shriner, who sang lead vocals on the Red album bonus track ‘King,’ the next song they performed. Drummer Patrick Wilson emerged for the fourth track, Pinkerton classic ‘El Scorcho.’ During their performance of the last track from Maladroit, ‘December,’ which Cuomo seemed to think no one in the crowd had ever heard of. To my pleasure, they played a lot of my favorites, but ‘Pink Triangle’ was a highlight, as I’ve always wanted to see that song performed live. Dreams do come true (but ‘Only in Dreams’).
The acoustic set was very poignant, closing with staple single now over 20 years old, ‘Buddy Holly’. The band’s chemistry is very tighly knit – as each time a member arrived on stage the show escalated. The vocal parts were largely shared and harmonized, though Cuomo was obviously lead.
After their acoustic set, they performed their new album in entirely, all 13 tracks. During the songwriting process, over 200 songs were considered for the album and the tracklisting they chose is near perfect. The performance crescendoed emotionally as the show went on. ‘Back to the Shack,’ the album’s triumphant lead single, surprisingly had much of the crowd singing along (although large screens had been set up to play pre-recorded footage and displaying lyrics). The crowd seemed to consist largely of committed fans, especially considering the high price of tickets and how fast they initially sold out. ‘The British Are Coming’ also stood out as one of the night’s best and most articulate performances, a humorous yet melodic take on the American Revolution: ‘Punk ass redcoats trying to run the show/Telling me what to do and where to go/Mount your horse ’cause it’s time to tell the world.’ My favorite track from the new album, ‘Go Away’, features Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino and her vocal presence onstage, combined with the melancholy tone of Cuomo during the song made for a bittersweet performance. The crowd reacted to the new album set as well, if not better, than the acoustic set. Weezer proved themselves to be as musically versatile as they were in 1994, but obviously now far more mature.
Emerging with a cowboy hat, Cuomo urged the crowd to draw up noise as the encore came on, a stunning and roaring performance of ‘The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn),’ one of the Red album’s most recognizable hits. Cuomo performed the song with his signature, and now well aged, Sonic Blue Warmoth custom Stratocaster with a tortoise pickguard and covered in stickers, the same used during the Blue album sessions. After their jubilant encore, they retreated backstage after a bow.
I’ve had many friends see Weezer and tell me how much of a delightful experience it was for them and I must say, though some of my personal experiences in the Observatory last night were frustrating, their performance was spotless and their crowd interactions were numerous, funny and memorable. It was a privilege and honor to see one of my greatest musical inspirations in such an exclusive setting. God bless Weezer.