Few things go together like “summer” and “road trips” — the whole family crammed into the car, the trunk and backseat over-flowing with suitcases and snack wrappers, roadside attractions and lots of pictures. Rock band Weezer clearly had the same idea when embarking on their “Indie Rock Road Trip Tour” in early June with support from bands like Modest Mouse, Momma, Spoon, White Reaper, Joyce Manor and Future Islands. On June 25, the road trip reached its next stop in Alpharetta, Georgia at Ameris Bank Amphitheater.
No vacation is without its unexpected weather, and the band’s visit to Georgia was committed to the road trip experience, with the evening starting with severe thunderstorms and a weather- driven shelter-in-place. Fans who had yet to enter the venue when the sky began to darken were instructed to wait under the box office awning or in their cars until the warning passed.
Despite the pouring rain and rumbling thunder, a venue employee reassured soggy concert- goers that the band would play “no matter what.” Fortunately, the weather soon cleared, and people could make their way through security again with plenty of time to spare before the opening acts.
Despite the inclement weather, the show began on time with enthusiastic performances by Joyce Manor and Future Islands.
When the screen advertisements disappeared and “Africa” by Toto began to play over the loudspeakers, cheers erupted from the crowd in anticipation of the headlining act. On the stage was a mock car dashboard, framing the backdrop like a windshield complete with illuminated gauges, radio dials and the Weezer logo on the wheel of the car.
From the speakers, a “radio” switched stations every few seconds. Grainy talk show segments played as well as an assortment of Weezer song clips stylized to fit a variety of genres, including reggae and country.
Amid the build-up, the band strolled onstage, taking their places and launching into the first song. Drummer Patrick Wilson sat at a drumset on top of the “dashboard” rather than on the main level of the stage with the other three members. How- ever, the others would soon join Wilson on the higher platform during the show.
As Weezer played through their first song, “My Name Is Jonas,” animated scenery passed by while a cartoon highway was projected into the “windshield” of the dashboard set. Each song had its own view, varying from the streets of Beverly Hills during their hit song of the same title to fire- works at Mount Rushmore with a drive-in movie. These projected designs added flair to the stage’s road trip aesthetic.
Frontman Rivers Cuomo – wearing a casual flannel and playing a sticker-covered guitar – exuded “dad” energy as he per- formed. At one point, the singer played several chords before deciding the sound was not loud enough. After asking the crowd if they agreed and being met with cheering; Cuomo walked over to one of the oversized knobs on the dashboard set and turned it a bit as if adjusting the radio’s volume. Deciding the guitar was still not loud enough and checking that the audience shared this sentiment, he grabbed hold of the knob again and spun it around with both arms. This time, the guitar sounds came through the speakers significantly louder, and the next song began.
During another moment between songs, Cuomo brought out a vintage-looking Polaroid camera and told the crowd, “It ain’t an official road trip until dad takes a family photo. Smile, kids!” In true dad fashion, the man proceeded to have camera troubles, with guitarist Bryan Bell heckling him to “just use somebody’s iPhone.” The frontman eventually gave up, grabbing an iPhone to take a selfie with the crowd. With an impressive 15 albums and over 400 songs released during the group’s career so far, their 23- song setlist for the Georgia show featured 10 different albums and a cover of the song “Blast Off,” a Cuomo original from Weezer’s hiatus from 1997 to 2000.
With so many songs in their discography, many of them are not performed during tours; however, in the spirit of “road-tripping” through Weezer’s repertoire, the lead singer explained that they had been playing a different song at each stop that either had never been played on tour before or had not been in many years.
Georgia audience members got to hear “Lover in the Snow,” another one of Cuomo’s originals. The Alpharetta show would be the demo track’s live debut. The song was performed acoustic with Cuomo being the only member onstage. The set included a short acoustic segment of several songs. In barbershop-style, Bell, Cuomo and bassist Scott Shriner all shared one mic during “Susanne.”
Despite Weezer’s long career, their fanbase shows no signs of dwindling as hundreds of people were willing to brave severe weather to see them play. Attendees included people of all ages – older adults, teenagers and ex- cited parents with equally excited young children. The band them- selves sound as good as they did years ago, with their talent and stage presence just as alive as the love for their music.
Weezer will continue their journey across North America through September.