Flashback: Weezer & Flaming Lips Play Together @ PNC Bank Arts Center (July 28, 2011)
This is “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” a weekly feature inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
What’s Making Me Happy This Week is that today is the 20th Anniversary of Weezer (aka the Blue Album), the geek-rock band’s self-titled debut. I have so many fond memories of the Blue Album. Listening to “Undone (the Sweater Song)” before the album even came out. Seeing the Happy Days “Buddy Holly” video for the first time. Singing “My Name is Jonas” to a freshman girl whose last name was Jonas and who looked like she should be a Weezer fan (i.e. she looked like a librarian). And then the concert – Weezer playing to a raucous crowd of teenagers like me at the Roseland Ballroom in March of 1995, one of the only nights on which I’ve ever really moshed with abandon, singing at the top of my lungs “Say It Ain’t So” and “Surf Wax America“. What a perfect album.
Stereogum has a great piece on the 20th anniversary of the Blue Album. This line explains in a nutshell what I saw in this band 20 years ago, in the wake of the death of Kurt Cobain, the coolest rock star I’d ever seen: “More than any other figure in his generation, Cuomo helped popularize the concept of the cool geek, the idea that rock stars didn’t have to dabble in satanism and shag groupies like Jimmy Page but could obsess over Dungeons & Dragons and unattainable crushes instead.” Before Cuomo, rock stars to me were of the Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix mold – they lived hard and died young (and if they didn’t, they seemed like they could at any moment). Rivers Cuomo was a bona fide rock star who didn’t seem like he was likely to die young. The first of many.
Three summers ago Cuomo and fellow geek rock star Wayne Coyne joined forces as Weezer and the Flaming Lips went on tour together. I was there to see them at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on a beautiful weekday night, the sun setting over the sold out amphitheater. No one knew which band would open for which. As it turned out, the two bands alternated every few songs. The Flaming Lips covered Weezer. Weezer covered Radiohead. Together they covered Black Sabbath. And then – incredibly – the bands took the stage together for the final two songs, with Weezer and the Lips performing together each band’s most recognizable hit – “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Undone (the Sweater Song”.
That was the last great moment of the night. But the show actually got started on just as high of a note. Lips’ frontman Coyne had been known for riding the wave of the crowd in a giant inflatable bubble ball at the Lips shows. Rivers had been quoted in a press release put out before the show saying, “I asked Wayne if he has an extra bubble I could ride in.” Sure enough, the two men were both inside their own inflatable balloon and used it to crowd-walk over the heads of the crowd. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen live.
Luckily, BrooklynVegan has a whole host of fantastic photos and the setlist from this show.
And that’s what’s making me happy this week.
Rivers Cuomo and Wayne Coyne in Space Balls!
Weezer and the Flaming Lips perform She Don’t Use Jelly!