by Griffin Waterman with photos by Jesse Menendez
The classic album start-to-finish format that has become so popular at concert festivals over the last five years is one that suits a band like Weezer particularly well. When many Weezer fans say “I love Weezer” what they really mean is “I love Weezer’s first two albums but I don’t like most of what they did after that.” For many people of a certain age (roughly mid-20s to late 30s), Weezer, commonly referred to as The Blue Album, and Pinkerton are untouchable albums of intense personal significance. In the eyes of those same fans, later albums like Make Believe, Raditude, and Hurley are terrible blemishes on Weezer’s legacy.
The promise of Weezer performing The Blue Album top-to-bottom is an attractive proposition for those fans (if it isn’t already clear, this author is one of those fans). With their ninth album on its way in October, that makes two classic albums and seven that are a mixed bag. That’s not exactly the most comforting ratio when going to a concert. Furthermore, The Blue Album is a concise set of ten nearly perfect songs that also happens to be excellently sequenced for live performance. The Blue Album can offer both fan service and a consistently great show. Weezer absolutely delivered on those fronts, but not before a few rough patches.
The band came on stage playing their new single “Back to the Shack,” with a gigantic banner of the cover of their new album Everything Will Be Alright in the End hanging behind them. It’s a fun, if slight, song about nostalgically returning to 1994 that sounds not unlike something from 2001’s The Green Album. From there the band used the fun conceit of taking a time machine back to 1994, making stops at some of their hits along the way. They thankfully skipped Hurley and Raditude entirely, jumping straight to The Red Album standout “Pork and Beans.” Unsurprisingly considering the album went platinum, they lingered for far too long on awful Make Believe songs like “Beverly Hills,” while unfortunately skipping the underrated Maladroit entirely. They rounded the bend toward The Blue Album with their two singles from The Green Album (“Island in the Sun” and “Hash Pipe”) and only one song from the incredible Pinkerton album before stepping off stage.
After a quick change of banner to the blank blue cover of that first album, the band returned to greater applause than had greeted any of the songs from the first half of their set, with the exception of Pinkerton’s “El Scorcho.” When the quiet opening notes of “My Name is Jonas” gave way to the titanic power chords of the first verse, the crowd erupted, and from then on it was forty-one minutes of rousing sing-alongs to the album’s monster hooks and constantly looking over your shoulder to remain vigilant for the constant stream of crowd surfers. The Blue Album shot into popular consciousness twenty years ago on the strength of singles “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So,” and these songs have lost none of their power in the ensuing two decades. In spite of some rough albums, Weezer proved last night that they haven’t lost any either.
Photos and words by Jesse Menendez
Standing front row and one song in to Radkey’s set, I heard the guy next to me yell, “Holy sh*t these kids are f*cking amazing!” Ah, the excitement of discovering a new band. Hailing from St. Joseph, Missouri, punk rock trio Radkey took to the Radical Stage with youthful vigor and owned their short set. They delivered 30 minutes of Danzig-esque vocals and three chord rawkus. During their poignant song N.I.G.G.A, a song written to warn White kids that using the N word isn’t cool, Dee Radke, the band’s lead vocalist and lone guitarist shouted to the crowd, “This is one of those punk songs you can sing along to!” And sing they did. And they convened to form a small but determined mud sloshing mosh pit.
The crowd was having so much fun that bassist Isaiah Radke decided to join in toward the end of Radkey’s set. He dropped his instrument, jumped off stage and over the guard rail into the excited crowd. Riding a wave of outstretched arms, Isaiah could care less if you think crowd surfing is cliché. He was having a blast and so were his fans.
Check out photos of White Lung’s performance at Chicago’s Subterranean (9/10/14), then hear our conversation with front woman Mish Way, in which she talks about her own drug use and body politics: https://soundcloud.com/vocalos-music-vox/whitelung
Photography by Lauren Herrmann / LuxCamena