CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Weezer comes to Camp Pendleton
Weezer. I’d heard of them, but if you had asked me what they sang or even what they looked like, I’d respond with a blank face and shrug of the shoulders. I’d heard of them, but only in the way that someone who had spent their whole life in Ohio might have heard of Mount Fuji. They know it’s a mountain and possibly that it is in Japan. I knew Weezer is a band and played rock.
So, I researched and I listened. I learned about Weezer. Weezer is late-90s alternative rock. Weezer is soft punk. Weezer is unintentionally, yet not apologetically, geek chic before geek chic was cool.
My first visual handshake with the band was watching a video from their song “Buddy Holly.” Sure, I recognized some of their songs from the radio, but this was the first one I listened to knowing it was them.
“Oh, wee-ooh, I look just like Buddy Holly. Oh, oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore.”
I could see what fans enjoyed about them. The band is quirky, their songs mix a unique flow with memorable lyrics, and they hit at just the right time in musical history to make their mark.
SETTING THE STAGE
“For the Leathernecks” is a series of comedic, musical and specialty shows hosted by the Single Marine Program offering Marines and Sailors a break from their day-to-day routine.
It was through this program that my crash course on Weezer would become an up-close encounter.
To cover the event, my first time covering a big name, our work started before the band ever set foot on stage.
Hours until show time, the stage was already set. I hesitated at first and then climbed the metal stairs to the top. A drum set with green and purple markings sat on a pedestal. Old set lists and schedules plastered all over the sound technician’s station. Then there were the guitars.
My eyes were instantly drawn to a bright pastel blue guitar with stickers decorating its face. A cute little tiger sitting on a horse, katakana writing down the side. Boba Fett. Shakespeare in glasses. Domo-kun playing a yellow guitar. I didn’t know at the time the guitar belonged to Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s lead, but, from what I could recognize, I did know it belonged to a geek.
The opening act was small time. A group of dancers that could just as easily be at a county fair, the audience remained seated. Distant. Observing, sometimes reacting but not overly engaged. That changed the moment Weezer stepped on stage.
The stands nearly emptied and those seated up front surged forward to the gate line, eager to close the distance between them and the real reason they’d come out. Cheering, hands thrown up in the air, singing along to the songs they loved. The crowd was happy.
Front and foremost was geeky guitar guy, Cuomo. He sported thick-rimmed glasses and enough facial hair to spark jealousy in some Marines. To his left was a lean man in shades, long hair obscuring his face as he moved back and forth between guitar and keyboard. To his right, a bass guitarist in a blue-plaid button-up, large rings adorning his fingers as they danced across the strings. Behind him, taking his throne at the drums, a man in a banana shirt.
I leaned against the speakers, feeling the music pump out of them, literally pulsing with each beat. So loud you could shout to the person next to you and have them not hear a word.
Weezer was working the crowd. They’d signed a guy’s guitar, threw up a two-handed W-sign and moved as much off stage as they could, fanning the crowd’s enthusiasm.
Without meaning to I found myself humming to what songs I knew as I climbed up on the speakers to get a better look at the crowd. Two women up front were killing it. They screamed, they head-banged, they jumped up and down. Guys jumped up on their buddies’ shoulders, throwing up their hands and shouting out lyrics. Smiles were abundant.
It was Friday afternoon, it was hot, I probably had sunburn and I had no clue if we were going to be able to get all the photos we needed. The band wrapped up, Scott Shriner, Weezer’s bassist, delicately placing his bass on the ground before hurrying back stage.
“One more song! One more song!”
The crowd begged, shouting over and over again until it seemed like they should give up. A few on the outskirts started to wonder off, already deciding on what they to do now that the show was over.
Then, Weezer reappeared.
Shriner picked his bass, Patrick Wilson settled in behind the drums, Brian Bell and Rivers Cuomo grabbed their guitars and they played.
One more song.
“Oh, wee-ooh, I look just like Buddy Holly.”