A tight Weezer sounds fresh again at Aragon


March 11, 2001


"I got an electric guitar," Rivers Cuomo sang midway through Weezer's celebratory set at a sold-out Aragon Ballroom on Friday night. "I play my stupid songs/I write these stupid words/And I love everyone waiting there for me."

When "In the Garage" first appeared on Weezer's self-titled debut in 1994, it was only slightly ironic: This band of four overeducated indie-rock fans was indeed the sort of group that seemed destined to dream of stardom without ever venturing from the L.A. practice space so lovingly pictured in the centerfold of the CD booklet.

But Weezer had good timing. In the all-too-brief window that was post-Nirvana alternative rock, Cuomo and his bandmates placed a half dozen unforgettable teen anthems on the play lists of modern-rock radio. When the quartet took to an Aragon stage that was decked out to look like a high school gymnasium, songs like "My Name Is Jonas," "Buddy Holly," "Undone--The Sweater Song" and "The Good Life" sounded as fresh as they did seven years ago.

No, wait--they sounded better. Before Weezer went on hiatus so Cuomo could attend Harvard, it was a sketchy live band that could barely command the stage at Metro. Now it's a much more disciplined unit, with drummer Patrick Wilson firmly in control of the dynamics, and guitarist Brian Bell contributing beautiful harmonies. And if these button-down boys were at times a bit too restrained, the ultra-enthusiastic crowd made up for it by singing along at the top of its lungs.

It's disconcerting to think that a sizable segment of Generation Y regards Weezer as "classic rock," but then it's better to admire Cuomo & Company than, say, Bush. As a handful of songs from Weezer's much-anticipated third album confirmed, this is a band whose flair for indelible melodies places it in a league with heroes like Kiss, while its unabashedly romantic message does Holly proud.

As with fellow super-nerd front men David Byrne and Jonathan Richman, it was hard to tell if Cuomo was sincere when he crooned, "I love everyone." But the audience at the Aragon certainly loved him.

Kicking off the corporate-sponsored multiband evening was Ozma, an unremarkable quintet of Weezer clones. But the middle band on the bill was arguably even better than the headliner.

Kansas City's Get Up Kids are often pegged as members of the "emo" or "emotional punk" genre. But on the 1999 album "Something To Write Home About" and throughout their ultra-high-energy Aragon performance, they recalled nothing so much as the Replacements when that band was sober, up-tempo and firing on all cylinders. The MVP: drummer Ryan Pope, who propelled the Kids' melodic punk with unflagging intensity.