Live Review: Weezer with The Thermals @ WaMu Theatre 8/19

photos by James Bailey

My first car was a ’92 VW Jetta and I decided to name her Jonas. She was often personified -– after bravely overcoming a heart-attack (the transmission fell out), she died of a broken leg (axle) back around 2004. Nearly every Friday in high-school, my group of 10 to 12 close-knit friends (all guys and one pretty girl named Emily who always brought the pancake griddle) would gather at one of our houses to have breakfast before school – heaps of pancakes, an inevitably smoky house from frying too much bacon (sorry again, mom), hash, dozens of scrambled eggs. Every Friday that we gathered we put on Blue or Pinkerton, usually both, and then walked along the railroad tracks to school. In other Weezer recollections, it was 8 guys packed into a white minivan driving to the Warren Dunes or going to visit the “Concord bitches” -– these are my memories of what was one of my favorite bands for years, growing up in northern Indiana.

This time ‘round, Weezer named their tour “Memories,” playing Blue and Pinkerton in their entirety. I’m sure that everyone who has had a relationship with Weezer over the last 17 years (Blue came out in ’94) has stories and memories similar to mine –- nostalgic and wistful, these memories are vivid for me and remain some of the most fond times of my life. For this, I thank you, Weezer. Feel free to post your memories of Weezer in the comment section –- when you first started listening, where, with whom, what you did, etc.

At the WaMu Theatre, the crowd was decidedly diverse, age-wise. I had “an irrational fear” that it would be a bunch of 17-year old girls shrieking at Rivers. Perhaps the most represented age group was the late-20’s/early 30’s, and this made for some fine company. Quickly, from the intro of “My Name is Jonas” to “Butterfly,” it became a full-fledged sing-along, with frontman Rivers Cuomo directing at times. Rivers, historically nerdy, angsty, and extremely socially awkward seemed more relaxed and at ease than I expected, at times smiling (!) and fist-pumping to parts of songs. Although Rivers refused to play songs from Blue or Pinkerton for several years, he seemed to be enjoying himself.

It was very pleasing to see Weezer stay true to the recorded versions of Blue and Pinkerton -– they rarely strayed, including in the set my favorite quirks of Weezer tracks like the sing-along guitar solo in “Buddy Holly” and the talking at the beginning of “Undone (The Sweater Song).”

An intermission was held between Blue and Pinkerton during which a slide-show was presented of old band photos, narrated by a friend of the band. These photos included the house they had in LA in ’93, the garage that inspired “In the Garage,” old tour posters with artwork by Rivers (mostly stick-figures with oddly shaped noses), recording Blue album at Electric Lady Studios in NYC with Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, and the Rolling Stone article that pinned Pinkerton as the second worst album of the year in 1996. This night lived up to expectations and provided some nice closure on two great albums that defined several years of my youth.

While the night was all about reliving old Weezer, The Thermals warmed up the crowd with a short 30-minute set of upbeat power-chord rock, full of huge, catchy hooks accentuated by frontman Hutch Harris’s straight-forward and unique vocal style. Nonetheless, they knew that the crowd was there for Weezer and kept it short, ending on an energetic note with the opening track of their 2006 album The Body, The Blood, The Machine, “Here’s Your Future.”

The Thermals:

Weezer:

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4 Comments

  1. Jake Miller
    Posted August 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I discovered the Blue album at the end of my freshman year of high school. In the following months I proceeded to purchase every album out at the time (Blue, Pinkerton, Green, Maladroit). I find that this period in one’s life is prime real estate for Weezer. At the age of 15, I remember listening through that album hundreds of times by myself, relating to every song. I was angry and full of angst and Weezer put my feelings into words and distorted guitar melodies. I was lonely and high school sucked. The next year I began to make some really great friends, mostly starting through our mutual love for Weezer. These people continue to be some of my best friends to this day. Following the great Middle-American ideals of independence, the open road, and bored youth, I recall driving for hours by myself or with friends, blasting Weezer. Cruising Linway Plaza looking for babes, blasting Weezer. Driving to a possible party, blasting Weezer. We’d always pack into a car and spend the night picking up all our friends and not actually doing anything, just hanging out. It was time well spent. Weezer had a huge hand in my formative years and will directly be associated with making friends and building those friendships.

    I would also attribute getting into playing rock and roll music to Weezer. Within that friend group we started numerous bands and I would say that Weezer was always near the heart of most of them. I still love to play hope to continue to create art and music as long as I live. A milestone came a couple years out of high school. Some of the gang and I decided to perform the Blue Album in its entirety. We had all been playing music for quite some time by then and we knew the songs so well that we were able to put the them together without too much trouble. It was an honor to play the songs that affected me so much. Its amazing to think that Weezer has played such a role in my life. I love to share that story and am always eager to hears others share theirs.

  2. tom adamson
    Posted August 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    i was a junior in high school when the blue album started getting a lot of radio attention. i would listen to u93′s top-9@9 so i could hear “buddy holly” and “sweater song” and tape them off the air. i loved the tunes. i walked into english class second hour one day and marcus barlow and gretchen finn were having an argument about sweater song, time won’t let me remember who was on what side, but it went something like this “who in the world writes a song about a sweater, it’s like the stupidest song in the world. half of it is just people talking in the background.” “no it’s awesome, it’s just fun...” i sat down and immediately butted into the conversation, outlining how the lyrics were actually profound, about how self-confidence is like a sweater and how easily it unravels.

    weezer did a lot to bolster my own self confidence when i was a teen. they didn’t look like other rockers of the time, the grunge scene. they weren’t towering, muscular, long haired mammoths. they were regular guys doing mind blowing things with music.

    i also didn’t get pinkerton the first time i heard it as college freshman. but after college, i tried it again and instantly i got it. you have to be a little world weary to appreciate pinkerton. age afforded me that appreciation. to this day, it has many anthemic fist pumping moments when’er i hear it.

  3. Michael Beck
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Beautiful guys. Made my day. Thanks. m.

  4. Chris Rasmussen
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    At the elderly age of 28, and especially since approaching my 10 year high school reunion this weekend, I ask myself “Why was my yearbook grad quote “You take your car to work, I’ll take my board, and when you’re out of fuel, I’m still afloat” - but then I remember, because it’s fucking awesome.

    Weezer was the first band that provided a way of life, not just music. Being raised in the 90′s was overwhelmingly depressing (especially in the Pacific Northwest) raining everyday with all these musicians, revered, shooting themselves or dieing of drug overdoses or pissing on crowds.

    Weezer gave us a break - showed us that life was amazing, happy, while also being emotional and at times despondent.

    I LOVE the fact that Weezer posted the Rolling Stone article claiming how PINKERTON was the 2nd worst album of 96 - I wish they had also posted the article by Rolling Stone, 8 years later, wherein they called it the 17th best album of all time.

    VINDICATED!

    God I love Weezer and always will.

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