Weezer Coors Light Birds Nest at Waste Management Phoenix Open 1/30/14
As the famous 20th Century Fox fanfare played and the lights dimmed inside the Coors Light Birds Nest at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Friday night, the crowd might have expected Weezer to greet them with all the spectacle of a summer comic book blockbuster. Not quite. Instead, Rivers Cuomo shyly walked out dressed casually in an unbuttoned dress shirt, suit, and a dark pair of jeans so straight you'd think his mother ironed them before he went onstage.
As the iconic power-pop quartet unenthusiastically chanted, "the workers are going home" during the opener "My Name Is Jonas," it became apparent that band was feeling like they'd shown up to work. Maybe feeling like phoning it in or just killing time. That's because for Weezer, it's less than two weeks until vacation. In mid-February, the band sets sail for the Bahamas for their second annual Weezer Cruise. And all they had to do in the meantime was play some songs and collect a paycheck.
That drone-ish attitude was apparent as the stage lights changed to green as the band moved on to their comeback hit "Hash Pipe" in a workmanlike fashion. Audience members smiled at each other knowingly as they realized that the stage engineers were coordinating the lights to match Weezer's color-coded back catalog. This was the only wink the crowd would get from the band, as the audience wasn't acknowledged for the first two-thirds of Weezer's hour-and-a-half set.
Like any good office worker, Cuomo toiled away with his head down and his eyes closed, trying his hardest to stay focused. The crowd desperately wanted Cuomo's attention, but he refused them. Even when he was experiencing problems with his guitar during a rendition of "Troublemaker," he tried to play it cool so no one would notice that he wasn't having a good day at the office.
There were moments when it seemed Cuomo and the band were having fun, however. His body jerked back and forth during the spirited finale of "Surf Wax America," proving that the group is still proud of their early work.
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But a rendition of "Beverly Hills" barely managed to hide Cuomo's contempt toward the tax bracket of most of the audience. It should be noted that Weezer was essentially rocking out the same playlist they'd been doing for the last month, and the repetition might be wearing on them.
The tide almost turned as Cuomo climbed up an amp while slowly picking the opening notes of "Say It Ain't So." As the song began to pick up steam, the spectacled leader who finds inspiration in rock 'n' roll legends such as KISS and Green Day did the least rock 'n' roll thing he could do: walk down from the amp.
He truly was playing the part of someone who simply wanted to show up to work, do his job, and go home. He seemed to find no joy or inspiration in the work. The band couldn't even get excited as it slogged though a cover of MGMT's "Kids."
It was during the second verse of "Pork and Beans" when the show finally transitioned from four guys with a serious case of the Mondays to a proper Friday night happy hour. Cuomo finally spoke to the audience as he introduced each member of the band as they each sang a line from the song. Strobe lights flickered and guitar picks flew as the crowd sang along to "Undone (The Sweater Song)." Then drummer Patrick Wilson and Cuomo switched places for "Photograph." Wilson played the guitar with such aplomb that he showed up his boss as he effortlessly segued into a cover of Blur's "Song 2."
The band's only encore before punching out for the day consisted of "Memories" and (of course) the band's signature hit, "Buddy Holly." It was a reminder of how 20 years ago, Weezer seemed to have all the ambition and drive in the world, only to wake up two decades later uninspired. Rock 'n' roll has somehow become a job to Weezer, and it showed.
Last Night: Weezer at the Coors Light Birds Nest
Personal Bias: This is the third time I've seen Weezer, and the first time I was bored at one of their shows. I've always connected with the early stuff.
The Crowd: It was a sea of golf shirts, plaid shorts, and backward golf hats. PGA golfers must have hipster children.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "Seahawks!!!!!" was exclaimed by hooligans who forgot they were at a golf tournament.