Time for me to catch up on all my behind scheduled concert reviews. Figured I should start with the Rentals because, hint hint, said concert will do very well in my end of year rankings.
Lost in Alphaville is one of my favorite albums of the year. So when Matt Sharp announced a three date West Coast and three date East Coast tour in September…I hopped on a train up to NYC to catch the Irving Plaza show even though the show was scheduled on the only weekend that I wasn’t supposed to be traveling on for a 2.5 month stretch. You never know when the next Rentals tour is going to come around seeing as how the only permanent Rental is Matt Sharp. Somehow the show didn’t sell out, which baffles me.
The NYC tour stop gave me the chance to check out Irving Plaza for the first time (great venue!) and see a ton of friends from the Weezer Cruise. In fact, I stayed at the Weezer Cruise reunion party so long that I missed the first opener, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltzin. Whoops. The Weezer brigade arrived just in time for Mates of State and the crowd was still sparse enough for us to get spots pretty close to the front. They played a short set featuring more new songs than their last headlining show in DC. The new tracks sounded good, so I’m looking forward to their new album that is slated to come out in the spring. They are always a delight to see live. I was pleased that many of my Weezer friends walked away from the show as Mates of State converts. Good job, Kori and Jason.
Between sets, we ran into Karl Koch from Weezer’s staff. I also noticed a few NYC area musicians that I like out and about in the crowd – clearly everyone was not going to miss a rare Rentals live show.
The 2014 touring iteration of the Rentals was a formidable group featuring Ryen Slegr from Ozma (also heavily involved in the new album), Lauren Chipman from The Section Quartet, Nedelle Torrisi, Keith Murray from We Are Scientists, Shawn Glassford from Starf**ker, and Jared Shavelson. The band started out strong with “Traces of Our Tears” and “Thought of Sound” in what would be a Lost in Alphaville heavy set list, with favorites from Return of the Rentals and Seven More Minutes thrown in.
Matt would play bass on some songs and just sing on others. His energy as a front man was through the roof. That’s the criminally underrated aspect he brought to Weezer. Sure, the Rentals have proved his ability to write awesome music. And when people lament his departure from Weezer, they usually are including an assumption about that influencing the band’s music post-Pinkerton in a negative way. I think that theory is very overrated, given how much of Weezer’s music Rivers is driving. But I’ll tell you what Weezer fans should miss from those days: Matt’s stage presence. He is a crazy, crazy man on stage and it is hypnotizing to watch. We’re talking enthusiastic jumping, bizarre dance moves, and a general energy that I’ve never seen before.
“These Days” and “Please Let That Be You” were early highlights. I liked Seven More Minutes songs like “Barcelona” more than I thought I would live, even though Matt draped himself in a FC Barcelona flag for the track (who along with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Redwings comprise my sports Axis of Evil). “Stardust” was beyond beautiful. They ended with “1,000 Seasons” before returning for a three-song encore of “It’s Time to Come Home” (in which Chipman and Torrisi more than did justice to the Lucius vocals from the album), “Getting By,” and an amazing rendition of “Friends of P” which morphed into “Pop Muzak” and “Ghostbusters.” During the Ghostbusters bit, Sharp jumped out into the crowd, encouraged everyone to kneel, and whisper the lyrics. It was so crazy that it worked somehow.
I hope it’s not another seven year break before Matt takes the Rentals on the road again. But whenever it is, you can bet that I’ll be there.
Everyone has a good misheard lyrics story. In college, I had a friend on my freshman hall who thought the lyrics to “Tiny Dancer” were “Hold me closer, tie me down.” Yeah Right reader Denise infamously projected some very wholesome lyrics to a very not wholesome Liz Phair song that I can’t repeat in polite company.
As for me, for years I sang the wrong lyrics to one of my favorite Weezer songs, “My Name is Jonas.” For whatever reason, I always thought “They’re fresh out of batteries” was “They’re fresh out of Baton Rouge.” No idea why. It makes so much more sense now. Silly me, I thought, not knowing the lyrics to a marquee song by my favorite band. Well it turns out that last week I found out that I had another lyric wrong in that song…in the same verse. It kicks off with “My name is Wepeel.” WHAT? Listen to the song. It sounds like he’s saying “My name is Wakefield.” No way do I get “Wepeel” out of that. Who is Wakefield? No idea. I assumed it was one of the many characters in the song. It’s not like I know who Jonas is. I’ve corrected my Baton Rouge mistake when I sing-a-long. I think I’m going to stick with Wakefield.