Skip to main content

Riot Fest: Weezer

Live Review

Venue: Humboldt Park, Chicago

LA power-pop icons phone in their much-anticipated Riot Fest slot

Oh, Weezer. Whatever are we going to do with you?

If there's one band this weekend who really could benefit from playing an album in full, it's them. The Blue Album or Pinkerton - it doesn't matter. Both are staples of modern music and truly great albums in their own right. So it should stand to reason that a performance of the former in its entirety should be great. Sadly, though, it isn't. 

The trouble starts early with severe overcrowding - not Weezer's fault, certainly, but it makes everything uncomfortable. Once they start playing, the volume of the PA isn't quite loud enough either, meaning that for most people, the whole set is more like a group karaoke session than a gig. Again, not Weezer's fault, but it still has a detrimental effect. 

And there's the set itself. Or rather, the two sets. The first is what Rivers Cuomo introduces as "the Time Machine", a selection of hits, in reverse chronological order, spanning the LA band's career. It starts with Back To The Shack - a song, taken from their (actually very good) new album, that's all about going back in time and rediscovering their roots. It sounds good. Pork And Beans follows. It sounds good. Even Beverly Hills - one of the worst songs in the band's catalogue - sounds good. It's followed by two cuts from The Green Album - Island In The Sun and Hash Pipe - both of which are awesome. And then they play El Scorcho, and everything is right with the world. The band look like they're having fun. The crowd certainly are. But then it stops, the band walk offstage and there's an awkward elongated period of nothingness, just some spotlights lighting up the empty stage.

When the band return, there's a marked shift in their attitude, though what is hard to tell. As the band launch into the iconic riff that begins My Name Is Jonah, the crowd, still crushed, erupt and thousands of voices sing along in unison. That it drowns out the band at times - both during the song and the rest of the set - is annoying, but it's not the end of the world. But as the band make their way, without a word, through The Blue Album's tracklist, it becomes increasingly apparent that Cuomo seems slightly pissed off, that he doesn't want to be there. It's not that they play the songs badly. Far from it - they sound great, in fact, note-perfect and true to the record. The World Has Turned And Left Me Here, Buddy Holly, Undone - The Sweater Song, Say It Ain't So, Only In Dreams - all of them are played perfectly. But there's absolutely no emotional investment from Cuomo or the rest of the band. Rather, they're just going through the motions, fulfilling contractual obligations in exchange for a nice pay cheque. Fair enough - but at least pretend like you care, Rivers. Because what should have been a great performance of a great album just feels tacky, empty and cheap, anaemic and disappointing. What should have been a celebratory set full of magic and nostalgia and wonder and good times, was anything but. To make matters worse, just across the way on the other main stage, you know that The Cure are giving it their absolute all, drenching their set with heart and soul and pathos and magic and wonder and good times and all those things this set should and could have been. 

Oh, Weezer. Whatever are we going to do with you?

Get Involved

Trending Reviews

Promoted

Top