Thursday, July 21, 2005

The End of the Affair

11:00 AM: I cheerfully leave work early, as planned, in anticipation of an afternoon nap and the night ahead in Orlando, seeing Weezer.
5:00 PM: After a healthy sleep, I am in the midst of listening through Weezer albums in preparation of the concert. I have a sudden tiny burst of inspiration and, after a dry spell of writing, start playing a pretty cool riff and singing half melodramatic, half cheesy lines ("I've fallen into disrepair/ Living in the soft contours of your hair") and half wanting to spend more time to try and make a song.
6:35 PM: We (Matt, Kathleen, and myself) are on the road, listening to my reissue of the Blue Album. I read a few pages from Graham Greene's The End of the Affair (a marvelous book), and think of all the b-sides and non-album songs that Weezer could, but would not play.
8:00 PM: We enter Hard Rock Live just as the opening band, The Fray, take the stage. I am partially surprised, because I had read that doors opened at 7:30 and the show starts at 9:00.
8:11 PM: I recognize The Fray as trying to play off Coldplay and Keane. With a middle-of-the-road approach to keyboard-oriented adult soft rock, The Fray does not leave me angry or disappointed ($12.50 to see Weezer alone, I thought, was worth it), nor does it make me want to seek out more. Looking into the singer's faded black U2 shirt, I try hard to leave no memories of the band with me, wanting, as with others such as Calla and Mommy and Daddy, to strike this band from my mental concert roster.
8:30 PM: I am surpised at The Fray's short set. Although I didn't really like them, I almost felt as if they deserved to have more time to try to win me over.
9:00 PM: For the past half hour, I check my watch every five minutes and compulsively bob my head to the strange jazz-type music playing in the background while people set up the stage. The crowd cheers at any step that brings them closer to seeing Weezer: guitar techs tuning, changes in lighting, and (understandably) the mounting of the "flying" =w= to the ceiling. Even radio personality "Buckethead" got a few cheers, for some reason.
9:12 PM: After a horrid speech by Buckethead and a period of fake Weezer cheering (this event was taped for a future airing on MTV) to get crowd shots, the group finally entered the venue, to the Disney theme song. Rivers looked as expected, with a strange brown-collared shirt with '80s blue-striped sweater combination. Scott was looking like a frat guy. Brian wasn't out of the ordinary. Pat had grown his hair to the length seen on the front of the Green Album.
9:15 PM: Matt gives me a disappointed look as the band opens with a single from the Green album, "Photograph". Later he explained that he wasn't familiar with it, and thought it was Make Believe material (which, if you hadn't sensed it, is generally disliked by us).

Weezer disappointed.

I got a suspicion when Rivers said "This is an MTV special, so you might see us posing more than normal" that it might not turn out that well. I've just checked the band's website, and saw that MTV tapings are usually limited to a one-hour set, so I don't hold it against them that it wasn't long. I don't know if it was because of the taping or not, but they played everything according to the books: same, exact, recorded tempos, only one or two deviations from the arrangements, same, exact guitar solos. As I listened through the four songs from Make Believe, it slowly dawned on me that I really didn't like them. I had wanted to like that record, listening to it a couple of times, but, aside from a few moments, I just can't force myself to embrace it. And hearing him sing "Perfect Situation" right after El Scorcho- it was just worlds apart. The softened tones, a noticeable difference in his vocal delivery. Disappointing.

I listened through the older songs (Undone, Say it ain't so, Buddy Holly, Surfwax America) half-heartedly (El Scorcho I thoroughly enjoyed), partly because they were unchanged (except for notable changes that were undesirable- palm muting on Buddy Holly?!?) from the recordings, partly because I could sense a lack of emotion, partly because, at that moment, the band I had held at #1 for a few years was slowly slipping rank. I had supported their last two records, I had held out hope for album #5. Then, after I dismissed that, I still held that they had a live show.

The kicker was when they came out after twelve minutes, saying that they had to play "Beverly Hills" again.

Driving home (at 10:30 PM), looking at the moon, listening to The Decemberists' Picaresque, and talking to Matt about literary endeavors, I truly felt this was a significant turning point. All of the shows in Tallahassee have spoiled me: even if they aren't good bands, they usually have the energy to back it up. Just as Matt expressed, I too wished for a little "slop" in Weezer's playing-- a section that didn't gel, a solo note that wasn't hit, or was hit poorly, a flaw that I could hold on to like that disturbing cracked note in "Butterfly" at the end of Pinkerton. Ahh, Pinkerton. With all of the choices nowadays, I don't think I can concern myself any longer with current Weezer. With The Decemberists and Spoons of our era making Picaresques and Gimme Fictions, ...

1:00 AM: After a late-night indulgence at Steak n' Shake, I listen once again to Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights and read a bit more from The End of the Affair.


  1. Anonymous1:03 AM

    Well said, Justin. The disappointed look also had to do with them not opening with "Tired of Sex."

    Throughout the whole concert, I didn't really feel like Weezer was playing for me. I just felt like I nothing more than a stage prop for their television recording. This may sound really melodramatic... but I felt quite sad, even betrayed the other night. In high school, I clung to Weezer's Pinkerton when I felt most alienated. "In the Garage" off of Blue was a personal anthem that seemed almost personally tailored for me. And then to have the band whore me out for a snazzy television appearance... Weezer broke my heart. I know the band doesn't "owe" me anything, but it still felt crappy. < /emo>

    Robby said I can probably buy his bass rig... which I hope includes an amp so that happy-fun-theremin time can begin.


  2. That's too bad, man. But at least they didn't play everything slow. That bugs me more than anything. (I guess that's why I like the Police live CD's so much ... Stewart Copeland would never let them play less than 20 clicks faster than the studio cut.)