I’ve seen Weezer live several times at this point, and I’ve developed a pretty good idea of what to expect from one of their shows. They’ll play some of their classics from The Blue Album and Pinkerton, they’ll play just enough of their terrible hits like “Beverly Hills” to be annoying, and they’ll do it all with slick and well-rehearsed professionalism. The last time I attended a Weezer show was right after the release of The White Album, a record that was surprisingly excellent, and so I found myself in the unfamiliar position of actually hoping they’d play some songs from their new album. While I got my wish and was treated to live performances of LA Girlz and Do You Wanna Get High?, the novelty of genuinely enjoying new Weezer material wasn’t enough to make the gig noticeably better or worse than other shows of theirs I’d been to. Much like a Dairy Milk or most Marvel movies, a ticket to a Weezer concert guarantees you a good time, but it probably won’t deliver anything you’re not already expecting.
Colour me surprised, then, that despite Weezer’s recent singles causing me to anticipate new album Pacific Daydream less enthusiastically than I look forward to a punch in the face, I enjoyed the show I attended last Wednesday substantially more than any other Weezer concert I’ve seen. The reason? They kind of kept messing up. Their actual performances of the songs were as rock solid as ever, but it sometimes appeared that each of the band members thought they’d be performing completely different set lists. After opening with the sublime The World Has Turned And Left Me Here, guitarist Brian Bell launched straight into The Good Life and forced Rivers Cuomo to sprint to his microphone in order to begin singing the first verse in time. He made it, but the look on his face betrayed the surprise of a man who only realised he was supposed to be performing this song just as it started. Later in the set, after waiting awkwardly for a few moments for drummer Patrick Wilson to count him in, Rivers realised he’d once again made a mistake and sheepishly explained, “I guess me and Brian start this one”.
Pat hurled a drum stick high in the air and only just caught it. Brian’s guitar faltered and needed replacing mid-song. Rivers misheard a crowd chant and responded with his erroneous version multiple times throughout the night, his error getting funnier every time. These mistakes and imperfections infused the show with a totally new kind of energy, one that I’d never seen at a Weezer concert before. Cuomo is an incredibly calculated writer and performer, for better or worse, and seeing him and his band respond so positively to being pushed out of that comfort zone was a delight. For the first time, I realised I didn’t have a 90% accurate idea of what was going to happen moment to moment at one of their shows, and that was incredibly exciting. I love Weezer when they fumble and screw up; I just didn’t know it until I saw it.