All photos by Clayton Taylor Photography
Weezer is aware their best album, and your favorite Weezer album, is likely their 1994 self-titled debut, referred to as “The Blue Album.” In concert in Rogers, the band played six songs from that album, including the show closer, the nerd rock megahit “Buddy Holly.” For comparison purposes, they only played two songs from their fourth self-titled album, referred to as “The White Album” because it has a white album cover. That album was released in April of this year to generally favorable reviews.
Next at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion
Who: The “Carnival of Madness” tour featuring Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm and Whiskey Myers
When: 6:30 p.m. July 26
Where: Arkansas Music Pavilion, Rogers
Cost: Starting at $29.50
Tickets: Call 479-443-5600 or visit arkansasmusicpavilion.com for information.
But last night at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers did not feel like 1994. Among other moments, Weezer covered, if briefly, a recent radio hit of pop star Mike Posner. They also performed a newer-than-their-new album work titled “I Love the USA,” written to commemorate the successful orbital flight of the Juno spacecraft in a rendezvous with the planet Jupiter.
Even if the setlist was disproportionally loaded with early-career highlights, Weezer proved their continued ability to write a straightforward rock hit. They’ve done so following a time-honored formula forged by forerunners such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys – hit them with a lovable sweetness, some lyrics about girls or hanging out or transportation and some killer hooks.
Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo took a moment during the encore to read some tweets concert goers had posted during the course of the evening. One mentioned his blue eye shadow and the idea that Weezer had been a band longer than she’d been alive. He’s certainly a one-of-a-kind, and a walking manifestation of his goofy songs. He wore a comically large sombrero for one song, and a cape and a crown during the new single “King of the World.” And as pop songwriters go, he’s not far from that designation. He can still play, he can still sing and he can still write a song. That’s a combination that lasts.
Speaking of one of a kind, Brendon Urie of openers Panic! at the Disco certainly earns that distinction, too. Anyone capable of landing an on-stage backflip from a drum riser and capably covering Queen is in pretty rare company. Urie told the sold-out, packed-to-the-gills crowd he learned to play drums and guitar by teaching himself to re-create the sounds he heard on “The Blue Album.” I suspect many hundreds of musicians and bands were similarly created in the wake of that seminal album. And that manifested as a breakdown of the crowd, too – with some notable exceptions, the 20 somethings were there to see Panic. The 30 somethings (and above) were there to see Weezer.
Urie and company upstaged or equaled Weezer on many fronts. Their production values, with smoke cannons and carefully considered video images, did not look like those of an opening act. And the set lengths ran about the same, too. Both bands played for about 75 minutes.
Musically, there was less for me to get excited about, but I’ll confess to being one of those 30-something Weezer fans I just mentioned. Panic sounded muddy to me, and it’s hard to know where to place blame for that – I thought the sound quality during Weezer’s show was crisp and clean and full of nuance. I never got those qualities from the Panic! at the Disco set. But I did come away with an appreciation of Urie’s talents. He mostly sang and danced, a limitless ball of energy from the moment he stepped on to the stage. But he also played piano and guitar on occasion. His rangy voice covered the peaks and valleys on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and jumped around on his band’s own works as well. He performed the second half of the band’s set shirtless, complaining of the oppressive heat.
Speaking of heat, a lot of fans stood outside in it for a long time. The start times of both Weezer and Panic! at the Disco were pushed back because of the length of the lines of fans waiting to get in to the building. If you showed up at 7 p.m., the announced start time of the show and exactly when the first notes of openers Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness began, you probably missed all of his set. He played for about 35 minutes, and my wait in line was right at 40 minutes, a time that doesn’t include my walk from my parking spot to the line.
The AMP attributed to longer wait time to increased security measures requested by the band. I don’t know what a reasonable time expectation for a wait should be. We live a time where we have to screen people thoroughly before large events. We have to allow for, expect, tolerate and even respect those measures. I also know that I’ve made it from the parking lot and through security at Northwest Arkansas Regional airport in less time than it took to get into the AMP last night. If you want to start your Monday by reading some anger, check the venue’s Facebook and Twitter feeds about the entry lines.
But if you want to start your Monday with some smiles, ask someone who went last night about their favorite Weezer song, or about the confetti that stuck to their sweaty clothes last night. A little nerd rock is good for the soul.
Panic! at the Disco