by Holli Stephens
I’ve been jamming out to since my middle school days and by any means necessary I was going to find a way to get to Bethlehem to see them at Musikfest. It was as problematic as I expected it to be. After asking around I recruited my friend Ian Louda who has a car, is a film major, musician, and a Weezer fan to trek on the excursion up to Bethlehem to share the experience with me.
We arrived shortly after opener Public Access T.V. started their set on the tremendous Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza. The Manhattan four-piece’s sound blasted through the parking lot with their dynamic guitar riffs and intricate drum rolls for an hour set that was very pop but weirdly still laid back. They were able to shape each set of lyrics in their hits “Monaco” and the many other crowd favorites played.
In an conversation earlier that day that I had with a friend’s older brother, he recalled seeing Weezer live in 1998 and it being a tremendous musical experience. In the 16 year difference of our concerts, Weezer still has the ferocity and spunk that literally got everyone out of their assigned seats. Besides Brian Bell being added in 1993 a year after Weezer originally originated, Rivers Cuomo and Patrick Wilson had created eight studio albums, all of which were showcased in their eyepopping set. In 2003 Scott Shriner took over on bass and during the present set Louda commented, “He can make the bass talk”.
I’m not exactly sure how Weezer was able to pack all six of their greatest hits (or atleast my favorite songs) like “Island of the Sun”, “Pork & Beans”, “Buddy Holly”, “Undone — The Sweater Song”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “Beverly Hills” into one performance, but it was something truly beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience for me.
Fitted in his legendary black-rimmed glasses frontman Cuomo felt all the love from a crowd call and response to “Perfect Situation” that ended in the audience practically taking over in singing the chorus. And this was only the third song into their set. Every single song, whether it be “Surf Wax America” or “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To” was met by the crowd of middle-aged couples and hipster teenagers pouring their voices out to sing along.
Musically, Louda and I took the time during each song to share our feelings on transitions and individual instrumental parts. We agreed that the transition from “Troublemaker” into “Island of the Sun” was something to make any Weezer fan smile. Weezer’s newest single, “Back to the Shack” quickly became a crowd favorite with its poetic chorus of “Take me back, back to the shack, Back to the strat with the lightning strap”. I witnessed many audience members taking to the aisles to dance in a more open area and I’m glad to say I was among them.
The encore was a very crafty procedure. All the Weezer guys left the stage, the lights got dim, and the area. I read online that Weezer had recently been so I patiently awaited the stage to light up again. Not only were these two songs drawn out with hearty guitar solos and intricate all the members of Weezer, from Cuomo to Wilson, Bell and Shriner got on a drum piece and created a looping pattern all of funky beats as one unit.
I am still awestruck just thinking of their last simultaneous drum hit to close out the night.