Seeing Weener this past weekend reminded me of that chapter in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa-Puffs about tribute bands. Chuck Klosterman got to spend some quality time with a Guns N' Roses tribute band who really took their time to be like classic era of GNF'R, as well as taking their time to act like classic GNF'R. From what I saw, Weener doesn't try to look, act, or dress like Weezer, but they definitely got plenty right about Weezer.
You see, Weener has been a bit of a myth for me. I had heard about them all the way back in college, but never saw them play. There were other related bands like Blah (who did all Blur songs) and Bloasis (who did all Oasis songs). By chance I saw Bloasis last year, with none other than Glen Reynolds of Chomsky fame in the role of Liam Gallagher. By chance this past Saturday, while co-hosting a party at my house, I had a chance to slip away for a couple of hours to see Weener play. I had a ride and an understanding co-host, so I went.
Reynolds, along with Mark Hughes from Baboon on bass, Ben Burt from Pinkston on drums, and Jason Weisenburg from the Commercials on guitar, played for two hours, covering Weezer tunes almost exclusively from their classic '94-'96 era. Though The Red Album's "Pork and Beans" was played in the encore, the set was devoted to The Blue Album and Pinkerton, along with a couple of B-sides from that era. Hell, the show started with a one-two of "Susanne" and "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly."
I got to thinking: for people my age, this was the Weezer we've always wanted, but since The Green Album, it hasn't been the same thing.
I have my theories, but for some reason, Weezer just hasn't been the Weezer people have loved since Matt Sharp left the band. Whether or not praise or blame goes with the parting of Sharp, I've placed the blame on other things. In some ways, it's like discussing Star Wars before and after the prequels. So while I watched Weener, I thought I knew what all worked for Weener and what's missing from the post-Matt Sharp Weezer: the element of fun.
None of Weener's members tried to act like or look like any of the members of Weezer. Glen, Jason, and Mark all traded off on lead vocals and harmonies. Glen didn't stand there with a deer-in-the-headlights look, befuddled that so many people wanted to see him play. Moreover, nobody stood on the stage as a statue. I could tell these guys were having fun, but also taking what they were doing seriously. And the songs were good too.
I don't feel old about seeing a cover/tribute band devoted to a band that really meant a ton to me in high school and college. Frankly, the point of the show was to have a good time with friends and sing and dance along to some great songs. Talking with friends before and after the show, the better experience was Weener over present-day Weezer. To me, that's frankly weird.