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Live review: Weezer at Gibson Amphitheatre

Rivers cuomo
Weezer’s 1996 album, “Pinkerton,” is the rare mainstream rock record about being a giant creep. Not in a lecherous Rolling Stones way, nor like Radiohead’s mopey early career. No, “Pinkerton” is the kind of record on which the band’s Rivers Cuomo seethes that a girl won’t reciprocate his love — for the totally unjustifiable reason that she’s a lesbian. It tapped a vein of Asian-female fetishizing among white male indie rockers — the thing is an emo album as an Orientalist fantasy featuring cellist girls who pen love letters on delicate stationery. Any woman who in real life encounters the flailing, vengeful passive-aggressive narrator behind songs such as “No Other One” should run screaming for the fire exits.

Weezer-concert And yet. There might not be a more vivid example of the insecure male id in American music. “Pinkerton” is a torn nerve of an album that justifiably repelled casual fans upon its absolute bomb of a release and has deservedly been resurrected as one of the most discomfiting, honest and emotionally powerful records in rock. The band reprised “Pinkerton” on Saturday night at the Gibson Amphitheatre; 14 years after its release, it still drips with the lovelorn fury of a young man who has bared his soul to his audience — and his audience has reached for its pepper spray.

On Friday, Weezer performed its self-titled debut, known as “The Blue Album.” Its pleasures were never in dispute. “Blue” was immaculate fuzzy power pop that wore its influences like, well, an unraveling sweater — Buddy Holly, Cheap Trick, the Cars and a tasteful bit of guitar shredding.

“Pinkerton” was something else. From the first gain-fried bass notes of “Tired of Sex,” the album felt nasty in sound and spirit. That song’s chorus is a crude day-planner itinerary of girls Cuomo is sick of sleeping with. But just as quickly, he cops to being totally ashamed of himself and on his knees pleading for true love. It’s so ferociously catchy that the contradiction rings true — the sensitive singer succumbing to his lesser angels is also an arrogant cad wondering why it all feels empty.

Patrick wilson weezer

It’s clear that “Pinkerton” is still a third rail for Cuomo, even as Weezer plays it on this dryly titled “Memories” tour. The first half of the band’s Saturday set (largely a collection of defiantly brainless hits from its more recent career) proves that Cuomo has pretty much just been having a laugh since 2001’s “Green Album.” He spent much of the first hour strolling in the aisles and cutting mock-Danzig poses while singing goofball tunes such as “Pork and Beans” and “Hash Pipe” — as “Lost” actor Jorge Garcia, the “Hurley” of Weezer’s latest album title, crooned from the side stage.

For “Pinkerton,” Cuomo spent the album’s 10 songs rigid in front of his microphone stand, still seemingly nervous to be detailing his kink for teenage Japanese fangirls on “Across the Sea” and being an “old goat” breaking rules about “hanging around with chicks like you” on “Falling for You.” If he were Mick Jagger, this would all be a dandyish lark, but Cuomo’s sweet-tempered persona makes his moments of sexual venom even darker.

During the solo acoustic closer “Butterfly,” just as Cuomo delivered a lyrical misogynist epithet made even more vicious and petty by the gentle song around it, the Gibson stage’s loading dock opened to show the band’s trailers and a Valley panorama behind them. It was stark and unexpected and made the room a little colder. But even Cuomo looked taken aback by the long, almost sympathetic ovation that followed. He’d been a creep in that song and others over the course of the night, maybe. But an honest one.

-- August Brown

Top photo: Frontman Rivers Cuomo leads the Los Angeles alternative rock band Weezer in a rousing opening set at the Gibson Amphitheatre. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Middle photo: Rivers Cuomo. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson performs at the Gibson Amphitheatre. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (5)

That pic is not Pat it is Josh Freese their drummer while on tour. He is in DEVO.

You contradict yourself more that the album does, but that album is sometimes (but not really) meant to do that i.e. "Cuomo delivered a lyrical misogynist epithet made even more vicious and petty by the gentle song around it."

You do use language well, but you should've just titled this review, "Misoynist Plays What I Think is a Misogynistic Album (But it's Ok, because He's a Sincere Creep)."

It's not a misogynistic album though, you just come off like you have an agenda. He's an legit artist, and you're a Journalist, maybe.

It is obvious that Mr. Brown is not a Weezer fan and is biased. It seems like he is a Rivers hater with distaste for Weezer's music. Some people love to tear into song lyrics and forget about the catchy melodies and energy that the band brings to true fans. I disagree with the review and I thought the show was really awesome.

Agreed, Brown makes these claims yet offers no specific proof of misogynist lyrics; maybe the bias is just in your head? Obviously if enough people didn't relate by having the same thoughts in their heads at times, the band wouldn't have sold so many albums.

I'm a huge Weezer fan and Pinkerton is my favorite album, but I'd have to say this article was well written and a well-thought out examination of what Pinkerton is and who Rivers Cuomo was at the time he wrote it. Though maybe misogynistic maybe a little strong, the album certain shows a, at times, dark and nerdy anger with women, you really can't deny that... it's this darkness that drew me to the album's lyrics and energy. The album in its entirety is like an inside view of a very interesting character, someone who's I can relate to, or at least relate to in my high school years of unrequited love. Some people's comments that the writer is 'anti-Rivers' seems misplaced, as though you may disagree with the writers' views, he's clearly researched and knows the band's history and Rivers' work, which is all you can really ask in a music review for me, being that music is so subjective anyway, and that he's actually kind of saying he likes Pinkerton.

So thanks for a well written piece, and thanks Weezer for a thoroughly entertaining show, obviously built for real fans (slideshow anyone?), and a great surprise playing of "Suzanne," a real treat for me in particular.


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