Why wait to play “Undone (The Sweater Song)” when you only have an hour?
At 9:55pm, unearned confetti cannons on the ceiling of the Crystal Ballroom went off. At a time when most opening bands are wrapping up their cables after thanking the crowd for coming, Weezer were playing “Say It Ain’t So,” the final song of their set. “That’s bizarrely early,” you’re probably saying to yourself, and you are right, but there is more: they only started playing at 9pm. In that hour, the band played every one of their hits and then some—14 songs total—but it was hard not to feel appalled on behalf of everyone in the room who paid full price for the show.
How much money would you be willing to pay to see a band perform an hour-long “Greatest Hits” set? $40? $50? Even more? As it turns out, Portland’s die-hard Weezer fanbase has unwittingly provided us with their answer to this question—they spent $77 plus applicable fees. As part of Portland “Alternative” radio station 94.7 KNRK’s annual “December to Remember” series, the band played the Crystal Ballroom, a rare small-venue performance for Weezer—and, as such, ticket costs were exceedingly high, even considering this was a rare intimate show by a pop-rock juggernaut. For those playing at home: if we are doing the math based solely on face value, concertgoers paid $5.50 a song and $1.29 per minute.
The band’s set, while brief, was a good one. Save for the two lone songs from this year’s Pacific Daydream, the band did not touch anything newer than 2008’s Red Album classic “Pork & Beans,” perhaps Weezer’s best song since their heyday. They blew through every hit they have produced with a youthful, breakneck speed, eschewing all conventional wisdom about scattering the crowd-pleasers around a set. Why wait to play “Undone (The Sweater Song)” when you only have an hour? Mashing through it six songs in will do just fine, thank you.
I was sadly too far from the stage to really get a sense of the dynamics of anyone onstage—this was a show full of cell phones in the air—but the band sounded great. Weezer have always been a good sounding band, with Rivers Cuomo’s lyrics at the forefront of the issues that have persistently plagued them. They have done very little to reinvent themselves over the years, but that which was easy to lean on in the band’s early days is still there. Cuomo can still hit the Buddy Holly-high notes and shreds alongside Brian Bell just as he always has, and if you were to put drummer Patrick Wilson’s drums in a race, they’d win by a mile. The band is finally in a place where its members seem to know exactly what their audience wants but—and I never thought I would say this—I wish they had played at least another half hour, if only to offset the significant price their fans paid to see them.