When word started trickling out on the internet several weeks ago that Weezer was planning on embarking on a 'Memories Tour' that would consist of performances of their classic albums Weezer (The Blue Album) and Pinkerton in their entirety, any longtime, old-school Weezer fan such as yours truly couldn't help but be a little excited.

It was, after all, a long, LONG decade for true Weezer fans:

Ever since the band ended their hiatus a decade ago, there has been very little in the world of Weezer to get excited about. Their 2001 comeback album Weezer (the Green Album) was no-frills pop rock, but with a couple of infectious singles that got the band back in magazines and on the radio. 2002's Maladroit was more of the same, albeit a bit weirder. The band used the internet to let fans have an input Maladroit's songwriting process which kept people still interested.

Weezer then took a little extra time to release 2005's Make Believe. At that point, the general consensus among the original Weezer fans was that Make Believe would be a return to Weezer 90's sound after the carefully structured, radio-friendly pop of the previous two albums. This FYM writer went to the music video shoot of lead Make Believe single "Beverly Hills" at the Playboy Mansion in Hollywood, which was the first time anybody in the public had heard the song and where the band was headed to next musically. The crunchy power chords and ridiculous lyrics left all the fans' faces at the Playboy Mansion shoot wearing a confused scowl of betrayal and heads shaking in shame. Musically, Make Believe was a complete disaster. "Beverly Hills" and "Perfect Situation" were successful singles, which is seemingly all that matters for Rivers Cuomo, but songs like "We Are All On Drugs", "My Best Friend", and "The Other Way" had lyrics so cringe-worthy you had no choice but to feel embarrassed for Cuomo. Even though "Perfect Situation", "Haunt You Every Day", and "Hold Me" were Weezer's best songs since Pinkerton, the bad outweighed the good so much that Make Believe can still be considered Weezer's worst album to date.

Weezer sort of rebounded from the Make Believe mess with 2008's Weezer (The Red Album). Lead single "Pork and Beans" had the sound and music video that best captured Weezer's nerdy charm since Matt Sharp left the band."Dreamin'" sounded like it could have been a Pinkerton b-side. The ridiculous six minute "The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" was probably a result of Cuomo listening to Green Day's rock opera American Idiot a bit too much, but you couldn't help but smile at the excess. Closing track "The Angel and the One" packed more real emotion in one song than the band entire post-Pinkerton discography and remains Weezer's best song since 1996. It wasn't all good with The Red Album, however. Cuomo let the other members of the band sing some songs, and they were all very mediocre. "Heart Songs" and "Everybody Get Dangerous", like most of the songs on Make Believe, featured lyrics that made you feel embarrassed for Cuomo. Also, "Pig", a song that appeared on the album as a bonus track, was much better than many of the songs that actually made the proper album.

While The Red Album was essentially a step forward for the band, 2009's Raditude was just another puzzling mess. "(If You're Wondering If I Want You to) I Want You To" was a decent single, but songs like "I'm Your Daddy, "The Girl Got Hot", "Love Is The Answer", and "In the Mall" are just as predictably terrible as their titles. The ridiculous "Can't Stop Partying", which featured a guest verse from Lil' Wayne (Weezy and Weezer!), was one of those songs that was so dumb it became a pure guilty pleasure.

New album Hurley sounds like Cuomo genuinely wants to return to the old-school Weezer sound for the first time in a long time, but it seems that he may have lost his touch as the songs, for the first time in his career, are neither great nor noticeably bad: they're all just kind of bland. "Where's My Sex" and "Smart Girls" are bad lyrically (as expected), but other than that, the album doesn't warrant much of a reaction either way. In the long-run, Hurley will be rather forgettable, but not necessarily panned.

Obviously, Weezer's 21st century existence has has produced more bad memories than good, so this "Memories" tour focusing on the band's 1990's material is a blessing, right? Well, not so fast.

The Blue Album and Pinkerton are both short enough to be played in entirety in one concert. So it was reasonable to imagine a concert that could insist of a performance of The Blue Album, an intermission, a performance of Pinkerton, and then, why not, a few Blue Album and Pinkerton-era b-sides as an encore. What a perfect night that would be, right?

But then you would figure, 'Hmm... well, they do have a new album to promote. Okay, maybe I'd be okay if they played 2 or 3 new songs at their encore AFTER they played both of their first two albums...' Still seems reasonable.

And then came the announcement that the 'Memories Tour' would consist of two concerts over two nights in every city, with each show dedicated to one of the classic albums. The first thought racing to everyone's minds: Money. Cuomo wants to milk as much money as he can out of his old-school fans dying to hear both albums in their entirety. Weezer's website says that each night will consist of a performance of one Classic Album plus a 'Greatest Hits' set, which doesn't make any sense since all of the band's "greatest hits" are on The Blue Album and Pinkerton.

So let's say you go to Pinkerton night. You hear Pinkerton, and then during the 'Greatest Hits' set you're 'treated' to songs like "Hash Pipe" or "Memories" or, god forbid, "We Are All On Drugs" instead of real 'greatest hits' like "El Scorcho" or "The Good Life". It's possible they'll be generous and play some Blue Album tracks during the 'greatest hits' portion on Pinkerton night and vice versa. But it will NOT be enough and it will just come off as a cruel tease. Maybe Rivers Cuomo thinks that this tour will help introduce The Blue Album and Pinkerton to very young Weezer fans who were introduced to their music on albums like Raditude and Hurley and can beg their parents for money to go to two concerts, and obviously that's unfair to people who have been fans for much longer.

Weezer fans shouldn't be surprised that the band would pull off bullshit like this after suffering through so many sub-par albums (and I'll even overlook the fact that it may be a bit questionable to perform these two classic albums without original bassist Matt Sharp in the mix). A lot of Weezer fans are likely thinking the same thoughts about this 'Memories' tour and will also likely buy tickets to both nights, but one thing that's for certain is how they'll be thinking just how easily this tour could have been changed for the better.

Just for fun, here's a list of songs (not counting all Blue Album and Pinkerton-era b-sides, since they'd obviously all be welcome) that I would be okay with hearing during the 'Greatest Hits' portion of these shows:

"Don't Let Go" // "Island in the Sun" // "Simple Pages" // "Death and Destruction" // "Burndt Jamb" // "Space Rock" // "Haunt You Every Day" // "The Angel and the One" // "Pig" // "The Prettiest Girl in the Whole Wide World"

BONUS: Here's an incredibly awkward picture of this For Young Moderns writer (left) with Rivers Cuomo (hooded, center, looking at the floor), and said writer's friend and ex-girlfriend Tina (right) at what I believe was The Troubadour in Hollywood for a Space Twins concert on March 28, 2003. Apologies for the haircut and looking like a goon:


J said...

Memories (the song) is merely an echo (or remnants) of an artist who once created with a group of guys, two classic albums. Rivers certainly has achieved much commercial success, after Pinkterton, however the writing and content never come close to their first two albums. There were better songs (b-sides) on the Green Album, than there were on the actual release.

The only thing I am pissy about is, didn't Rivers put up such a fuss about never playing certain Pinkerton songs live ever again? It seems as if he lied to the hardcore fans, and now is only doing it because the money is right... My opinion doesn't matter, an artist can do whatever they want, but in my book Rivers and his integrity disappeared for me with this one. For me, when I skipped class to buy the Green album in high school after all the hubbub, and secret shows... my fire inside for weezer was blown out after listening to a weak 30+ minutes of average pop music.

Everyone kept hoping the 'sound' would return.. but I def feel Rivers was in a different mindset back then, hungry enough to give up school to pursue. The hunger died after Pinkerton was publicly damned by critics (didn't rollingstone give it 1 or 2 stars originally?) I think Rivers never recovered from exposing himself so much, and having it mocked... (although hindsight it was his greatest achievement)

And what about Matt? Why did things go south, and never return...

Will S. said...

I remember seeing Weezer back in 2001 (with Jimmy Eat World and Tenacious D -- amazing show!) and I think the only song they were playing off of Pinkerton at the time was "Tired of Sex" which I thought was funny because Rivers was so 'embarrassed' about Pinkerton at the time and "Tired of Sex" was maybe the most awkward and revealing song off that album.

Yeah he was in a completely different mindset back in the 90's. Now he's all happily married and a father and rich and everything. I don't think he has that fire inside of himself anymore to make any worthwhile music.

I remember Matt Sharp sued Weezer a couple years back over royalties from the Blue Album (I think). But they eventually came to a friendly resolution. I guess Matt won't be back in Weezer ever because it wouldn't be fair to current bassist Scott Shriner, who I briefly met once or twice and is a real cool guy.

James O. said...

I couldn't agree more. Although, I haven't listened to a Weezer album since 'Make Believe.' I remember Weezer was the first band I ever really listened to. My brother bought the Blue Album cassette for me on one of my birthdays and I absolutely loved it. I was so stoked when I heard about this tour, but after the excitement wore off, I realized what it really meant. Trying to tap into your old following, while you make no effort to appeal to them in your current music, is just plain shady.

But, you know, maybe those two albums weren't what Weezer really is. When you make two awesome albums, then 4 or 5 albums after that are completely crap, maybe you are just crap. I think it has been time for the first Weezer fans to distance themselves from the band. They will never sound the way they originally did, and we just need to move on.

Also, I went to the show you speak of with Tenacious D and Jimmy in Long Beach. It really was awesome.

God, I miss Weezer.

Will Sellers said...

I totally know where youre coming from on the 'maybe theyre just truly crap' thing, but i really believe Rivers is capable of making more Blues Albums and Pinkertons. Maybe he's purposefully making shit albums because if he is accepted by the Pitchfork people, Weezer will be a hipster thing and Weezer is supposed to be more of an outcast thing. If that makes sense.

Bobby said...

I know everyone love Blue and Pinkerton but I've always found Maladroit and Make Believe more interesting as that was a very pivotal time for Rivers Cuomo and some really interesting music came out of it. I would absolutely attend a Maladroit/Make Believe Memories Tour!

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