I’m finally recovered enough to attempt to recap the epic vacation that was Weezer Cruise 2. As loyal readers will know, I rocked the first Weezer Cruise with Yeah Right reader and college buddy Denise (see here, here, here, and here for a recap). This time around my partner in crime was another college friend, my sorority sister Jess. Team Bucknell faired very well, if I do say so myself.
The party got started the night before in the official cruise hotel, which featured theme cocktails like “the blue album,” “island in the sun” and “pink triangle.” The hotel was a dump and they ran out of food around 8pm, but it was a great party to start off the cruise. The entire lobby area was packed with Weezer fans. Everyone was catching up with friends from the first cruise, making new friends, drinking heavily, and sometimes singing Weezer songs very loudly. God bless anyone else in that hotel that wasn’t going on the cruise that had to deal with us until the bar closed.
I was lucky to make it out of DC given the horrible snow storm down south that canceled a lot of people’s flights. Other DC folks I knew were supposed to fly out later that night, had their flight canceled, and drove overnight to get to Florida. Several international travelers were supposed to fly in through DC, had their flights canceled, and missed the cruise entirely. So I felt a huge amount of relief to finally get to Jacksonville, and I gladly enjoyed some blue album beverages while waiting for Jess to arrive from Boston. In the meantime I mingled with friends I’d met at shows since the first cruise, met Bleached (the band I was most looking forward to seeing on the cruise, other than cruise #1 veterans Weezer and Ozma), ran into some folks that I’d gone snorkeling with on the first cruise, and even met a girl with a matching Evening Snow at Kambara tattoo (aka the Hiroshige painting on the cover of Pinkerton). She even had it in the same spot as me – on her right shoulder.
The following morning, the excitement in the lobby was palpable. At 10:30am our fan-arranged transportation to the port had arrived: a big yellow school bus. Someone in the front of the bus had a guitar, and a 20 minute Weezer sing-a-long (appropriately starting with “Mykel and Carli” because of the school bus lyrics) began.
The boarding process went really quickly and by noon we were on the ship enjoying the stellar mac and cheese at the buffet two tables down from Scott Shriner and his family, plotting out our concert schedule for the cruise. There are so many bands onboard that if you don’t have your act together from a scheduling standpoint, you’ll miss out.
After heading to a party in the ship’s disco we were ready for the first performance of the cruise – the sail away show on the lido deck from the Orwells. Except that it wasn’t really a sail away show because they were holding the boat in port as long as possible to allow delayed travelers to make the boat. Pat Wilson wasn’t even on the boat yet when the rest of Weezer came onto stage to welcome everyone to the cruise and introduce the Orwells. Still, we donned our captain’s hats and got front row spots for the punk rockers from Chicago.
The lido deck stage on this ship was surrounded by fake palm trees and featured a lot of steps right in front of the center of the stage. As soon as I saw that I thought, “Mario Cuomo is going to fall down those steps.” It didn’t happen until the second to last song “Who Needs You” (at which point he literally tumbled down the stairs, landed between my legs, shrugged off the help of security, and finished the set with a killer version of “Blood Bubbles” despite having a bloody hand and lip). The only thing that was surprising about this scenario was that it didn’t happen sooner, as Mario spent the majority of the set on the edge of the front step (trying to not be hidden by the fake palm trees) with microphone wires tangled around his legs and a bottle of water that he kept tripping on. When asked later that night if he fell on purpose he’d reply “I do everything on purpose.” This sparking a wide “is he really like that or is it all an act?” debate on the boat. I lean toward the “it’s all an act” camp, but he does have crazy eyes so I can’t be entirely certain. In addition to most of their recent LP and EP their set featured stellar covers of “Build Me Up Buttercup” and the Black Lips’ “Not a Problem.”
Next up was the one ticketed show of the cruise that not everyone could go to: a solo acoustic set by Rivers. I was pumped to get tickets in the lottery this year after having missed out on the Rivers’ book reading and Q&A session on the first cruise. He played five songs and answered a few questions (though people asked really dumb questions so that was mostly a waste) including one of my acoustic favorites “Longtime Sunshine.” For “Superfriend” and “Blast Off!” he brought fans onto stage to sing the other vocal parts.
After dinner, we headed over to a set by Scott and Rivers – a Japanese-language side-project that Rivers has with Scott Murphy from Allister. Most of their songs had Japanese verses and English choruses. Their backing band consisted of a badass female Japanese drummer, Daniel from Ozma on bass, and Rivers’ daughter on keyboard (she would also play on several songs during Weezer’s sets on the cruise). This show was one of my favorite moments of the cruise. It was just such a unique experience and the songs were really upbeat and fun. Everyone’s collective jaw dropped when they busted out a Japanese version of “Buddy Holly” late in the set. Check out video of the set here.
Next up was a long wait in line for the merch store where I was basically a fat kid in a candy store by the time I got in there, gobbling up everything I could get my hands on. The line was so long that we missed the first two songs of the set by the Relationship, Brian Bell’s side project. I hadn’t listened to their stuff previously but I really liked them. Brian has a beautiful voice and it was great to see him shine in a leading role. The other guy on guitar and vocals however, was super weird and kept making awkward comments between songs.
Next up was an open bar Weezer birthday party (the cruise having kicked off on the band’s anniversary) DJ’d by longtime Weezer pal Karl Koch. All the nights of the cruise are a theme party. I was a little worried that this one wouldn’t be as entertaining as the rest in terms of people watching (how does one dress for a birthday party? I adorned party hats and balloons to a Weezer shirt I had from the Troublemaker Tour). Those concerns were quickly allieviated after we quickly saw a guy dressed as Jim Henson (complete with a Kermit puppet), a women in a spanx body suit (“birthday suit,” I guess), a guy in an elaborate “Only in Dreams” themed outfit, and one of our friends dressed as an elephant (I’m still not sure why). Stay weird, Weezer Cruise.
The party continued to karaoke hosted by Bleached, only without the karaoke as the machine was broken. So that turned into a dance party with Bleached, which turned in a dance party in the casino with other bands and the infamous cruise figure Weezer Jesus or “Weezus” as we affectionately called him. It’s pretty self-explanatory if more than a little weird – he was basically an over-the-top-guy who looked and dressed like Jesus for the entire cruise. We later found out that he was the winner of season nine of the Amazing Race. He was a very controversial figure on the ship. He was basically the center of attention and people loved or hated him. He was always nice to our crew but was apparently sketchy with others.
All in all, a great start to the best vacation ever.