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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 37
High-octane Weezer performance closes out Bumbershoot
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High-octane Weezer performance closes out Bumbershoot

by Rahul K. Gairola - SGN Contributing Writer

Weezer
September 5
Memorial Stadium
(Bumbershoot)


Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer of beloved indie rock band Weezer, has often been described as awkward, nerdy, and pretentious - he has even been self-disparaging in a number of interviews. But the insecure Ivy League brat that he has often been perceived as was nowhere to be seen when the band headlined the main stage at Bumbershoot on Sunday night. Proving that you can definitely be grown up and rock the foundations of a city stadium, the singer led his peers into an earth-shattering performance that was undoubtedly one of the brightest highlights at the entire music and arts festival.

Against the backdrop of an enormous Weezer banner illuminated by giant blacklights, the band exploded into "Hash Pipe" from its self-titled third record, known to fans as "The Green Album" (2001). Clad in a tight blue sweater with black stripes, Cuomo set the tone of the night by jumping up and down across the stage like a caffeinated Chihuahua. He then picked up the microphone stand with his right hand and thrust it towards the audience to thunderous cheers. Cuomo exclaimed "Seattle is frickin' crazy!" as he demonstrated his own "insanity" by climbing up the scaffolding of the left side of the stage and gyrating his hips above the watchful eyes of two nervous security staff members. As if belting out the night's soundtrack for Cuomo's wacky antics, the band dove right into "Troublemaker" from 2008's "Red Album," then played its crowd-pleasing first single "Undone - The Sweater Song" and "Surf Wax U.S.A." from the band's 1994 debut "Blue Album."

This marked a point in the explosive show where Cuomo's energy remained frenetic but seemed to become tempered by a softer side. Crooning out an impassioned rendition of "Perfect Situation," Cuomo hopped on the edge of the stage and held his microphone out to the audience. "Sing it for me!" he yelled, as the audience swooned together as one sweaty organism with a booming, communal "Ohhhhhhh, Oh! Ohhhhhhh, Oh!" As the band segued into "Say it Ain't So," red and yellow lights bathed fans surfing the crowd towards the front of the stage who were held up and pushed forward by throngs of fans. This frenetic loyalty seemed to inspire Cuomo, who howled, "This is where we started, people - Seattle!" in reference to former DJ Marco Collins of local radio station The End (now at KEXP), who is credited for sparking the heavy national airplay of "Undone" that catapulted Weezer's debut to triple-platinum status in the U.S.

In contrast to opening act Hole - whose lead singer Courtney Love referred to the audience as "a bunch of motherfuckers" - Cuomo strived to create an intimacy with the audience and the city that was contrary to his trademark stoicism. He somewhat tenderly confessed, "This one is right from me to you," and dove into "Island in the Sun" while a number of giant beach balls appeared out of nowhere and concertgoers on the floor volleyed them to each other. Cuomo also seemed more personable in the way he negotiated stage space with his amusing antics; he took breaks from climbing on the scaffolding to dance in a white spotlight on each end of the stage, and then hopped down off the stage to give high-fives to fans on the other side of the front stage barrier as he pumped out "My Name is Jonas" and "Beverly Hills." Cuomo's frenetic dramatis personae peaked after a guitar-heavy rendition of "Pork and Beans," whose effect was undermined by the tune's bonehead lyrics.

To the delight of everyone in the stadium, Weezer next launched into a phenomenal cover of MGMT's Grammy-nominated third single, "Kids." Perhaps in homage to the city's LGBTQ community or to emphasize the instability of gender roles themselves, Cuomo donned a blonde wig and segued into a short version of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." The band ended with passionate versions of "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" and "Buddy Holly," and closed the night with an impressive finale where all the bandmates played on one drum set to flickering strobe lights.

Not only did Weezer refute former criticisms by staging an epic show, but Cuomo's sincerity more importantly reminded us that loneliness, lies, love, lust, and confusion are what make us all human - and what, ironically, make life worth living.

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