The summer of 2008, besides providing the time and space for the countless events for which some of us save up by eating nothing but Ramen Noodles all through winter, held one live performance that transcended the “Meet-N-Greet” concept to a mammoth level of intimacy. An intimacy so sincere, that I’m tempted to say it compares to the kind of solidarity that weaves people together after a national catastrophe. However, Weezer‘s show on Yahoo! Music’s Nissan Live Sets was as far from disastrous as far can get.
Ever the underdog-raising, bespectacled ensemble, Weezer rubbed the Yahoo! crew in all sorts of right ways and got them to allow their audience to join in on the Weezing fun, in what is known as the Weezer Hootenanny. Some 250 instrument-toting, starry-eyed Weezer geeks made their way into the Live Sets recording room, and surely the sound crew must have been ecstatic. According to the Nissan Live blog, the guys in the band encouraged the audience to bring their own instruments and also provided some assorted percussion pieces for those who brought only their happy faces. In the end, the lineup was complete with a brass and woodwinds section, and the hundreds of devoted Weezer fans were scattered around the room. Some stood, some sat next to their idols, who were set up on tiny platforms no more than a foot tall.
What better way to share with your fans than to actually share your music with them? The theme here was obvious: Although we are Weezer, we are also musicians, just like you. We like our music as much as you do, and you should play with us.
Lead singer Rivers Cuomo made this evident by sporting more Weezer fan merch than possibly anyone else present.
In this innovative performance, the kickstart to the show was The Red Album‘s “Pork and Beans”, all through which the multitude of new members smiled as if nothing in the world could make them happier than to perform with Weezer. Seriously, how many other things would make you that happy? As the chorus came and went and there was an outcry in unison of, “I don’t give a hoot about what you think,” I got a bit of a chill down my spine out of benevolent envy for those who were able to join in that hootenanny. But although the set included classics like “Island In The Sun”, “Jamie”, and “Beverly Hills”, when they produced a drum-circle-mixed-with-marching-band rendition of Radiohead‘s outcast anthem, “Creep”, I went into a bliss-coma.
That, lady and gentlemen readers, was when I knew for sure that this performance was something more than a band letting some kids play along to their music. Here Weezer opened up the imaginary iron-clad gates that had forever separated audience from performer, and went even further. They made it understood that they, the artists, were at the same level as their diehard fans. During the two hour performance, they were all a part of Weezer, jamming to timeless Weezer songs loved by one and all. During the four or so minutes that they played tribute to Yorke and co., they were all fans, performers, and I’m going to go as far as saying, friends. It wasn’t Weezer leading an orchestra into “Creep”, it was a group of 250+ music lovers delving into one of the most wistful songs of the early ’90s with equal excitement and admiration.
This isn’t about “Creep” being the one song Radiohead might despise beyond belief, or about Weezer covering it because it’s the best known. It’s about the song being one of those things, like Super Mario Bros., that brings out a common love in a group of strangers. Not to mention, they added a sick brass undertone, and when the whole room explodes into “She’s running” after that second chorus, it’s such a grand moment, I wish they all had lighters.
The entire concert was pretty radical on its own, and you can find the higher quality videos on Yahoo! Music, but the Radiohead cover was the highlight for me. Bassist Scott Shriner takes the vocals on that one and, funny, doesn’t he look a little like Thom Yorke?