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Live: Weezer/Dashboard Confessional

By: Chris ZieglerThis Weezer show was a study in spirited schizophrenia, fitting fora band whose leader, Rivers Cuomo, loves to sing about personalitycrises. The set was heavy on Weezer tunes most likely to be foundon mix tapes (but where were “In the Garage” and “Pink Triangle”?),with Cuomo playing geek one song and guitar god the next. A blazing”Tired of Sex” blew away a meandering “Burndt Jamb” with a welcomewave of feedback; a snarly and raw “Hash Pipe” crashed into adeliberate and dignified “Only in Dreams,” like the beefyjock-rockers probably ran over a shy Cuomo in some high schoolhallway long ago. But Cuomo doesn’t want to be the guy who looksjust like Buddy Holly anymore. Tonight, his dapper suit and tie puthim a lot closer to Elvis Costello, and his gawky earnestness wasall Jonathan Richman. But there was an intelligence andvulnerability behind what history will recall as “classicWeezer”–1994’s debut “Blue Album” and its follow-up,Pinkerton–that was lost behind tonight’snot-so-ironic-anymore flashpots and fog machines.

Today’s Weezer specialize in chipper-but-brittle arena rock, appropriate for hook-heavy head-bobbers like “Keep Fishin'” or”Dope Nose.” But when the old-school alienation anthem “The Good Life” climaxed with drummer Pat Wilson’s drum riser ascending infront of a gigantic lit-up “W,” it just didn’t feel right. To be fair, this was a minority opinion: Weezer seemed to be giving the16,000 screaming fans (and they were screaming) exactly what they wanted. An equally safe and unsubtle approach also worked foropener Dashboard Confessional: Chris Carrabba’s cul-de-sac Kerouac pose had his fans reverently singing along with every word.

But at least Weezer can still be unpredictable, something Cuomo proved years ago on the artistically brave Pinkerton. He now goes out ofhis way to disown that album, but he still has a penchant for the perverse. In front of thousands of Orange County kids, he led the band’sfinale, “Surf Wax America,” into a spectacularly abstract raft of white noise and bass feedback. “Nobody in their right mind would not doanother encore after this,” someone in the crowd murmured as the din entered its seventh minute. Just then, the houselights came on–Weezerweren’t coming back after all.