with The Get Up Kids and Ozma

University of South Florida Sun Dome, Tampa, FL • February 26, 2001

Perhaps Weezer is the first concert that I can truly say was a religious experience. I felt a little apprehensive when I heard that Weezer’s comeback would be sponsored by Yahoo! and Pepsi One. My fears increased when I purchased my ticket for a giant arena and the show eventually sold out. However, the corporation didn’t kill the spirit of the tour too much, even though shirts were $30.

Ozma took the stage first. They were sort of this emo-punk that is trendy nowadays. I don’t remember too much about them because I was too anxious for Weezer. They performed quickly and nervously, which I can definitely understand. I didn’t envy them the task of opening for Weezer. The crowd for the show was a diverse one, with all walks of life. They ranged from hardcore kids in their headbands to college students to angry punks with mohawks to lost post-grunge adults. Poor Ozma, I’m sure they were last on everyone’s priority list.

I know people who showed up just to hear the next act, The Get Up Kids. It really wasn’t worth the drive. My heart was set on hearing “One Year Later” from the Red Letter EP, and they didn’t play it. But that’s fine. They started the set off with “Holiday,” and rocked pretty hard for a brief amount of time, possibly because the arena was full of giddy Weezer fans. Perhaps my view is a little biased, but I think that their particular brand of catchy pop-punk with a keyboard is best suited to the studio. The keyboard player was by far the greatest part of The Get Up Kids. He danced around and played that keyboard like he was on stage by himself. After some booty dancing, The Get Up Kids finished up with a big rock star ending, and left after thrashing about the stage for a while.

Then it was time for the moment I’d waited six years for. Let me describe the stage first. When the curtain rolled back, two basketball hoops adorned either side of the stage. I received hugs from random people who were caught up in the excitement of the moment. Rivers Cuomo and the band entered, and everyone went wild. The first song of the evening was new, and appropriately titled “New Song.” It definitely showed a new direction for Weezer, perhaps more serious? Only the new album will tell.

Now for the oldies but goodies. “My Name is Jonas,” “El Scorcho,” “No One Else,” and “The Good Life” followed. I think this is the first show that I have been to where everyone knew every single word to every single song. Rivers Cuomo played the first songs seemingly emotionless, leading the thousands in a bizarre mass singalong like some cult leader indoctrinating his victims. After the first few familiar songs, Weezer introduced more new material that went over very well. One song (I can’t remember which one) had a very metal-inspired guitar part with amazing falsetto singing by Cuomo.

Four new songs later, the old stuff returned. Weezer played every song off the self-titled album except “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” and “Holiday.” The only song I missed off Pinkerton was “Tired Of Sex,” but I believe they played it at other shows. “Only In Dreams” was the highlight of the night because I could see how transfixed and unified the crowd was for approximately eight minutes.

The corporation did show through a little during the set, though. I couldn’t figure out what the basketball hoops did at first, but it turned out they were projector screens! During “The Christmas Song,” a new song, the screens showed a funny movie of the band dressed as Santa Clauses. The screens showed up close shots of the band during the rest of the songs. Towards the end of the evening, a giant flying Weezer “W” lit up, giving the whole thing an ’80s rock feel. I don’t think it killed the mood, though.

Cuomo and the rest of the band opened up a little more as the night progressed. After playing two songs for an encore, the band jumped around then ran off. Cuomo is a very unlikely rock star. I’m amazed that this skinny man, clad in a sweater and thick black glasses, had such intense power over so many people for a night. He hardly said anything, except for thanking the crowd a few times. The music spoke for itself, and I wish I could describe it better.

All in all, was it worth waiting six years, buying tickets months in advance, driving two and a half hours, and fighting mobs of people to get a good spot? Definitely. I just hope I don’t have to wait another six years to experience it again.

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