Weezer played in front of a sold out crowd last night at FM102.1’s Big Snow Show. The music should always be part of the story -- and it is -- but this time around the venue said music was played in was also part of the story.
You see, Weezer played at The Rave (in the Eagles’ Ballroom, if we’re being pedantic), Milwaukee’s venerable and somewhat detested all-ages concert venue. Certainly The Rave needs to exist; the kids need a place to go see live music too. And adults that want to rock out would probably rather do so at The Rave than be sneered at by some of the hipper-than-thou patrons at the Pabst/Riverside/Turner complex. Where would one get their fix of 90’s nostalgia? (Bush, Korn, Alice in Chains, Reel Big Fish… and, yes, Weezer almost always play The Rave when they come to Milwaukee) Where would Insane Clown Posse play? The only answer is The Rave.
But the awful acoustics, the $9 (!) beers, the stench of weed and B.O., and the poor sightlines that often accompany standing-room only venues make The Rave one of the shittiest places to actually see a show in the city.
Of course, all of that seems to melt away once the band takes the stage.
Weezer played a workmanlike show. For 70 or so minutes, there was no fat, no bullshit, no deep cuts (unless you count set-opener “My Name Is Jonas” a deep cut), not even any banter with the crowd from Rivers Cuomo. Just hit single after hit single (and two new ones) from their entire 20-year career. And it was good.
Occasionally the muffled vocals (unintentionally) highlighted the fact that Weezer’s music is basically cock-rock for Millennials: big, dumb, happy guitars and a steady drumbeat that you can dance to. (Of course, not everyone shared in the joy; the guy next to me with his arms crossed the whole time while his girlfriend swayed to the beat was particularly galling.)
The highlight of the night came in the middle of the set, for “Say It Ain’t So.” It seemed like, for that one song, everyone in the crowd was engaged, dancing and singing along. If you’ll allow me some hyperbole, this performance of that song was life-affirming. Overpriced beers be damned… 4,000 people shouting the chorus of “Say It Ain’t So” in unison is the sort of thing that makes live music worth watching.