I have what I call the trifecta of bands that I was obsessed with as a teenager – 311, Bush, and Weezer. 311 was my happy, positive, everyday music, Bush was my hot front man passion, and Weezer was the soundtrack to my life. Luckily, I have seen 311 around twenty times throughout the years and have been front row, backstage, met them, and received their autographs several times (I still have to write about this past year’s 3/11 Day!). Gavin Rossdale toured New Orleans a few years ago and I was front row, had him grind on me, Kurt held his hand to stabilize him, and met him and got his autograph after. That left Weezer. I saw them once at Voodoo Fest in 2010, although it was not super close. So when I found out they were playing at Champions Square, an outside arena next to the Superdome in New Orleans, I knew Nola Nerd Couple had to be there. And when they announced VIP several weeks later, I made sure I bought that too. Finally, I would have a chance to meet the last of my ultimate favorite bands!
My sister and her boyfriend decided to join Kurt and I as VIPs because they love Weezer as much as I do. After standing in the VIP line for about an hour, we were ushered into club XLIV, the private lounge next door to Champions Square. Its name commemorates the New Orleans Saints Super Bowl XLIV victory. As we waited in the beautiful area, with a Muses shoe wall with decorated shoes from prominent New Orleanians, including Brittany and Rylen Brees (Drew Brees’ wife and daughter) and Gayle Benson (Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson’s wife). After a few minutes, the band sauntered out and we anxiously waited for our pictures with them. I went first and told them all hi and how much I loved their music. Rivers Cuomo seemed a bit like a statue, barely moving. Brian Bell (guitar) had a great big smile, as did Patrick Wilson (drums). Scott Shriner (bass) seemed pretty content as well. The picture was quick and next it was Kurt’s turn. As he is walking up, Pat tells Kurt that he loves his shirt. Kurt was wearing his favorite band’s t-shirt, The Replacements, so Kurt was ecstatic that Pat liked them as well. Dina and Brent then had their individual shots and that was it. The photos were available on the website a few days later and we are supposed to be getting an autographed poster in the mail any day now. Though it was a quick experience, what really made it VIP is that we were the first ones allowed in the pit area…which meant that since we were at the beginning of the line, we were able to get front row. Thank goodness the Weezer VIPs finished before the Panic! at the Disco VIPs, otherwise they might have been ahead of us. Weezer did not disappoint in their show.
Before Panic! at the Disco and Weezer, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness played for about a half hour. We had actually passed him several times before we went to the stage area and did not realize it. He gave an extremely spirited performance, singing and playing the piano, even though I did not know any of his music. Then he played the last song: “Cecilia and the Satellite.” That song comes on the radio all the time so I was excited that I was able to now put a face to the music. He said the song was about his daughter, Cecilia, which is just the sweetest. Not only that, but he was diagnosed with leukemia right before his band Jack’s Mannequin’s debut album in 2005 and have to have a stem cell transplant. He was also in Something Corporate, a late 90s – early 2000s band. Andrew has led a life and I am glad that he beat leukemia and is still making great music and giving high-energy shows.
Next up was Panic! at the Disco. I used to listen to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out in the mid to late 2000s like crazy. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” was the breakaway hit from that album, though I loved “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” “Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks,” “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off,” and “I Constantly Thank God for Esteban.” I remember “Nine in the Afternoon” from their next album, but then they kind of faded away. Suddenly, last year in 2015, they made a radio comeback with “Death of a Bachelor” and “Victorious,” among others. It was nice to see Brendon Urie up close and personal. He throws his whole body into his songs and I have no idea how his band was wearing formal long pants and jackets in the blazing heat of a New Orleans summer. Brendon was wearing leather pants and a jacket, which made me hurt for him. When he sat down to play the piano and do a (admittedly decent) rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he finally took off his jacket (though probably only because it would have hindered his piano playing ability). At the end of the set, guitarist Kenneth Harris threw his guitar pick and the girl standing next to Brent caught it.
Setlist (via setlist.fm):
- Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time
- Vegas Lights
- The Ballad of Mona Lisa
- Time to Dance
- Emperor’s New Clothes
- Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
- Nine in the Afternoon
- Miss Jackson
- Golden Days
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
- LA Devotee
- Death of a Bachelor
- I Write Sins Not Tragedies
- This is Gospel
At this point, most people were simply dying. It was stifling hot outside and we were jam-packed. Thank goodness we were in the front row and had a slight breeze because I think I would have passed out in the middle of the crowd. Then, suddenly, the security guards in between the barricade and the stage started asking us if we wanted water. What?!?! I have NEVER been to an outdoor concert where the management voluntarily gives out water. But they had coolers, ice, and paper cups and started handing out water to anyone. I cannot express how grateful the crowd was for this. SMG, the management company, did everyone in the crowd such a great service because several people were on the verge of passing out (and one did, as Brendon had to stop the concert and ask people to make room as one girl was passed over the barricade). The crowd was so accommodating and the four of us made sure to share each cup of water and pass water back as much as we could. Strangers were sharing water and helping each other out. It was beautiful and I am so proud of our New Orleans crowd for doing people right and helping each other out. Faith in humanity = restored.
Finally, FINALLY, it was time for Weezer! As the curtain pulled back, the began the show with “California Kids,” off their new white album. Of course, I own every Weezer album (except Maladroit, for some odd reason) so I knew the words to every single one of the songs they played, as did Dina and Brent, I am sure. I think Kurt knew most of the words to most songs, but he is just not quite a big fan as us three are. I was extremely happy to hear “Perfect Situation” because even though it gets a lot of flak, Make Believe is one of my favorite albums. It came out right when I was first meeting Kurt and a lot of those songs made me think of him and our complex early relationship, and “Perfect Situation” was one of the ones that struck a chord (hence, Weezer being the soundtrack to my life). If they would have played “My Best Friend” from that album it would have been perfect, but alas, that song eluded me. Scott told a sweet story about how he proposed to his wife in New Orleans, so the city holds a special place in his heart. The medley of “Dope Nose / Back to the Shack / Keep Fishin’ / The Good Life / Surf Wax America” was simply amazing. Knowing that they did not have enough time to do the full songs, they played the best bits of those. The audience was going wild. Then, when they played “King of the World” off their new album, only to have it turn into the coda of “Only in Dreams” from the blue album (their first self-titled album), I thought Kurt was going to go nuts. “Only in Dreams” is his favorite song, so to hear them play that coda was spectacular. They took a quit break to encore “El Scorcho” and end with “Buddy Holly.” In all, I could not have asked for a better Weezer experience.
Setlist (via setlist.fm):
- California Kids
- Hash Pipe
- My Name Is Jonas
- A. Girlz
- Pork and Beans
- Perfect Situation
- (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
- Thank God for Girls
- Beverly Hills
- Dope Nose / Back to the Shack / Keep Fishin’ / The Good Life / Surf Wax America
- Tired of Sex
- Undone – The Sweater Song
- King of the World / Only in Dreams
- Island in the Sun
- Say It Ain’t So
- El Scorcho
- Buddy Holly
As the lights came on and people started leaving, I looked down and noticed a guitar pick. My heart stopped as I prayed it was Brian Bell’s (who might be my favorite Weezer member, though they are all equally awesome) since Brian was to our left. Heck, it might have even been Rivers since he was right in front of us! As I picked it up, the first thing I notice is that it says Panic! at the Disco on it. I turn it over, and Kenneth Harris’ name is on the back. I realize it was the girl next to Brent’s pick that she had caught. I looked around for her and tried to find her, but it was so crowded that I never saw her. So even though it was not a Weezer pick, having a Panic! at the Disco pick is pretty sweet. I have a guitar pick collector sheet, kind of like the ones for baseball card that is basically a page protector with slots and a piece of cardboard in each slot with a guitar pick shape cut out. It was added to my Smashing Pumpkins guitar pick that I caught at the 2013 Gulfport Music Festival from Jeff Schroeder.
Thus, my trifecta of bands is complete. I have no band to aspire to see anymore. My bucket list is complete. I guess I will just retire from seeing bands as nothing can top my experiences with my trifecta of bands.
Or not. 🙂