Can’t Stop Partying…
February 1, 2013

Sidney Myer Music Bowl, January 16, 2013

A lot of Weezer fans look like Hurley.  That was the first thing I noticed as enjoyed the stroll through the Botanical Gardens towards the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.  It was Weezer’s first night in town since 1996, and there were a lot of guys who looked like the photo from the cover of the band’s last album, along with people wearing Hurley surf and skate brand t-shirts.  Sadly though, I didn’t see anyone wearing the ‘Weeze’ t-shirt from the Perfect Situation video.  Had those been available at the merchandise stand, I would have left even happier than I did.

I’m not traditionally a fan of the Music Bowl, but tonight I was given a special treat, in the form of surprise, last minute tickets in the stalls, and it made me see the venue in a whole new light.  Rather than spending the time before the headliner squeezing through the crowd in general admission to find an unobstructed line of sight to the stage to set the focus on my binoculars, I was able to relax in a comfortable chair with a drink whilst Cloud Control let their single Gold Canary intermingle with a rendition of the Butthole Surfers’ Pepper which came as a pleasant surprise and set the 1990s nostalgia scene in preparation for a rendition of Weezer’s self titled blue album.  I felt like one of those people who vow to never fly ecconomy again after using their Frequent Flier points to upgrade to business class.

As soon as they’d finished, members of Weezer appeared without ceremony on stage to help Cloud Control move their gear away, and to set up their own instruments.  It looked like a simple setup, the only obvious tech being in the form of the webcams attached to all of the instruments.  The work done, there was time for Rivers Cuomo to kick a ball around on stage with Steve Horvat from Dust Devil Music.

As the sun went down and day turned to night above those poor souls with general admission lawn tickets, Weezer’s ‘W’ logo illuminated above the stage, and Rivers mounted a kit box to address the audience, and introduce us to the musical time machine that would be the first half of the evening, a greatest hits set running in reverse chronological order opened with Hurley‘s Memories.  It was at the second song of the evening that the crowd started to really react, a surprise perhaps, as I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who really liked Raditude, the album from which I Want You To was drawn.

Ensuring everyone on the lawn of a close up of the action, Rivers leaped from the stage during Troublemaker to run a lap of the entire venue, with the energy of arena divas like Pink or Gwen Stefani.  Other highlights came as the time machine passed through the territory of the Make Believe and green self-titled albums, with Beverly Hills and Island In The Sun.  It seemed a shame that it was a featured album show, because a longer hits set could have included songs sadly omited this evening, like Keep Fishin’ and I’m Your Daddy.  Never the less, the hits set gave way to an interlude filled with a slide show of the bands career, with live narration including anecdotes from the long touring history.

In the past 18 months, I’ve seen Good Charlotte, Wheatus, Saves The Day and Dashboard Confessional all cover Weezer’s debut album to some degree, but as soon as the simultaneous jolt of beat, riff and vocal kicked off My Name Is Jonas, I could tell that original would be best.  What followed was a flawless – if at times too stringent – rendition of a classic album.  It was when the band deviated from the format of the album tracks that they were at their finest: an even more powerful arena-rock styled Say It Ain’t So, a key-laced Buddy Holly were highlights.

Hearing the first album, along with a sample of previous albums, live for the first time left the audience wanting more, and trying to calculate how many years it might be before Weezer are back in town to play their green album.


Good Charlotte play Weezer…
November 14, 2011

Whilst I could barely contain my excitement upon returning from the ticket booth, everyone I boasted to about the latest tickets to be added to the line-up adorning my fridge door refused to believe that the tickets were legitimate.  My boss, in particular, mentioned numerous times how absurd he thought it that Good Charlotte were to be performing a Weezer tribute show.  Amongst his list of concerns was his belief – which I did not disagree with – that there are likely to be very few Weezer fans who are also Good Charlotte fans.  But, I countered, as a fan of both, this was one of those rare dreamGigs.

Good Charlotte play Weezer’s ‘Blue Album,’
The JD Set at The Forum, Melbourne, November 10, 2011

Amy Meredith opened the evening, and although I didn’t see a lot of their set due to the unforgivably long queues for entrance, what I did get to hear sounded good.  The band seem to have come a long way since their self-titled EP (better known as the Dingley Rock City CD) and have found a more consistent sound.  They’ve gained a British indie-rock vibe at some point during their journey, and stylish new hair for Christian, but none of that is any cause for complaint.

In between bands, a DJ played a set that featured every song I always wished I could hear in a night club but never did, including songs by Fountains Of Wayne, Avril, and Rancid.  Meanwhile, a girl wearing spoons as jewellery confessed to me that she was looking forward to hearing Only In Dreams while an older woman who I had asked to hold my drink professed her love for me, Amy Meredith, Good Charlotte, whoever Weezer are, and AC/DC.  Needless to say, the corporate sponsorship meant that Jack Daniels cocktails were reasonably priced.Joel Madden, appropriately backed by the corporate sponsor

When Good Charlotte emerged on stage it was without fanfare, and the uproarious applause died down quickly as they broke immediately into My Name Is Jonas.  It was immediately apparent that it was quite a flat rendition, and highlighted the fact that many of the audience didn’t realise that this would be a tribute show and were unfamiliar with the material.  Indeed, Joel Madden himself would later observe that ‘There are… what?  Five people here who know The Blue Album?’  I joined that particular subset of five at the front and centre of the stage, where other audience members expressed their dissatisfaction at the fact that anyone should be singing or dancing.  A girl with whom my body had come into contact called me a jerk, and I asked if she knew how to do a concert.  Perhaps not the most articulate response, but I was satisfied when she stomped her foot on the floor and shrieked ‘What does that even mean!?’

Luckily the band seemed to get more into spirit of the event by the end of the song, and by the slow-build that is The World Has Turned, they were sounding pretty good and I – along with the few other Weezer fans in the room – were enjoying ourselves.  Most of the songs didn’t deviate too far from their source material, but Benji and Joel did do some interesting adlibs over the conversations of Undone… which the bulk of the audience seemed to enjoy.  It kind of highlighted how an album tribute gig like this can be problematic.  Weezer’s debut is without a doubt a fantastic album, but, like any album, it has its own lulls and peaks.  It was great to hear the songs, but the ‘tribute’ portion of the night might have been better received had it been presented as ‘Good Charlotte playing the hits of Weezer.’  Because the audience was so quiet during the Weezer component of the night, Joel was able to respond to my admittedly ludicrous requests for songs from other Weezer albums, like I Want You To and Island In The Sun, before silencing me with a fantastic rendition of Say It Ain’t So.

So skeleton gloves ARE still in vogue...

And with the closing of the Weezer tribute, Good Charlotte took a brief break and returned for what the majority of the crowd really wanted – a solid set of the band’s own singles.  Opening strongly with The Anthem, I was surprised to hear so many of the recent poppier songs from Cardiology included on a night like this.  Nevertheless, it was a varied set that seemed to please, and – whilst there were favourite singles omitted – crowd favourites like Riot Girl and Motivation Proclamation were played to perfection amongst the radio hits.

Good Charlotte playing Weezer was an interesting experiment, but it looks like my boss was right.  Judging by the packed theatre’s silence during Weezer, it didn’t exactly pay off.  But the full Good Charlotte set seemed to please everyone, whether they’d been bopping at the front to the Weezer covers or not, and it was a rare treat to see a band who frequent stadiums playing in one of Melbourne’s finest music venues.