Weezer, Taking Back Sunday
Comcast Theater, Hartford CT
August 29th, 2009
The show started off just like any other. Thousands of eager fans streamed into the sold-out Comcast Theater, eager to finally witness the return of Blink-182. Most of them, including myself, missed Chester French, and then witnessed a bland set from Taking Back Sunday, followed by a fantastic one from Weezer. When Blink first took the stage, the crowd roared and Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge raced around the stage belting out the band’s biggest hits.
However, this was not a normal show, for during the band’s set, a teary-eyed Hoppus called this one of the most difficult shows the band had ever played due to the death of Adam Goldstein , aka “DJ AM.” Goldstein, who had died suddenly a day earlier, and had collaborated with Barker on a number of occasions (and). His death came as a shock to the music industry. Hoppus credited Goldstein with being an extremely talented musician, innovator, and friend. The band did their best to put on a great show, but it was often difficult to sing along to their bouncy pop-punk tracks after seeing the band so visibly shaken up.
The night started (at least for me) with a short set from Taking Back Sunday, marking the third time I had seen the group this summer. Unlike their memorable performance at the House of Blues in Boston in June, they seemed out of their element playing on such a large stage before the sun had set. The band went through the motions, trying to look interested without much success. The crowd in the pit stood still and silent for the first half of the set, finally getting involved during “Liar (It Takes One to Know One).” They may have been doing so more out of boredom than actual excitement.
After the unfurling of a golden “Weezer” banner and a hilarious “Welcome to Harford” video introduction, the veteran act took the stage, minus front man Rivers Cuomo. After playing the opening cords of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” Rivers finally made his entrance, moving like a clunky robot and holding a football. As if this wasn’t strange enough, Weezer proceeded to rock the Sabbath cover as if it were their biggest hit.
The crowd seemed very confused. This changed with the intro to “Hash Pipe.” While this was a Blink-182 headlining show, you would have no idea based on the crowd’s reaction to nearly every song the band played. Weezer’s set was as enjoyable to watch as any I’ve seen recently, as Rivers egged on the crowd with his odd stage antics that included playing an accoustic guitar while jumping on a trampoline. It was obvious the Connecticut native wasn’t taking this opening slot lightly.
The set was so good because the band didn’t shy away from older material. Tracks from 1994’s landmark blue album were dominant and included “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Surf Wax America,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “My Name is Jonas,” and “Buddy Holly.” In addition to this, the band would include more of their best work, such as “The Good Life, “Pork and Beans,” and “Perfect Situation.”
While the entire set could be considered somewhat outlandish, two of the wackiest moments involved Cuomo playing “Island in the Sun” by himself, looping drum, bass, and backing vocals and then taking care of lead vocals while playing an acoustic guitar, which he then tossed into the crowd. While the guitar would have made for an amazing conversation piece for one lucky fan, it was quickly ripped to shreds, providing small souvenirs for a few dozen involved in the scrum.
Weezer would then finish the set the way they had started it: with another over. This time, it was The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” After a half hour wait, Blink-182 took the stage to the delight of the completely sold out pavilion. The band would race through seven songs, beginning with “Dumpweed” and finishing with “Stay Together For the Kids,” before an emotional Mark Hoppus would address the crowd about the tragedy that had struck the day before. The emotional address and moment of silence that followed cast a notable pall over the next few songs.
Tom Delonge attempted to lighten the mood with jokes, but was largely unsuccessful. Finally, he took a moment to address the crowd, saying music had always served as an escape for him, and tonight would be no different. This rare serious moment from Delogne was surprisingly heartfelt, and seemed to rally the crowd for the rest of the show.
The band would finished their set with “Josie” and “Anthem Pt. 2,” before returning for an encore that did not feature Travis Barker’s traditional “flying” drum solo. Seeing as Barker considered Goldstein a close friend, it was understandable why the drummer had no intentions of taking center stage on this night. Following “Carousel” and “Dammit,” the band would take their bows and leave the stage.
Hoppus’s mid-show address was unlike anything I’ve seen at a live show. The night was obviously very difficult for the band, and it was somewhat surprising they hadn’t postponed or canceled the show altogether. Overall, the trio deserves a great deal of credit for their performance. They sounded great and looked to be having a blast, even if this was not at all the case. While a tragic plane crash that had involved both Barker and Goldstein only a year earlier was the main reason Blink was back on stage together, it was difficult to take any positives from this most recent tragedy.