by Ursula Rogers
This summer will see L.A. formed band Weezer and friends grace stages throughout the U.S. June 8,2023 saw them make their 3rd stop, in Austin, TX at Circuit of the Americas Germania Amphitheater. Fans of Weezer didn’t allow the Texas heat and humidity to dampen their excitement Thursday night. For this stop of the road trip they brought Momma and Modest Mouse along for the ride. The energy was high as drinks, mingled with enthusiasm, flowed throughout the audience.
Longtime friends Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten formed the band Momma while in high school and their chemistry shines onstage. Certain tracks are reminiscent of time gone by with the opener giving hints of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the song “Bang, Bang” channeling Garbage. The smell of cotton candy wafting in the air, heat waves across the sky, and riffs of Momma solidified my anemia. Though a new band, they won the crowd over. With each song the applause grew more enthusiastic. Their use of phrasing and dynamics truly showcased the band’s musicality. I will be sure to seek them out in the future.
Oregon based indie icons Modest Mouse came out like the rock stars they are. The percussion was so strong, I felt it in my chest. A highlight for me was how the stage lights and music were in harmony. They changed color and brightness according to the music. It truly is a more interactive experience and perhaps made it fully realized for those who are hard of hearing. I especially loved the moment when one of the guitarists broken into the robot. That was not on my Modest Mouse bingo card. Their performance of “Ocean Breathes Salty” was among my favorites. They played many more of their hits like “Float On”, “Dramamine”, and “King Rat” along with newer songs like “We are Between”.
Unfortunately, late last year founding member (alongside frontman Isaac Brock and bassist Eric Judy) and drummer, Jeremiah Green, passed away due to cancer. He was part of the heart of Modest Mouse for so many years. The crowd responded to them well and clearly loves the band. Modest Mouse’s entire set was full of great energy and was a welcome addition to the tour. You can see them later this year co-headlining with the Pixies.
It was nice to see Weezer in the driver’s seat of this tour. The tour theme of a road trip was further showcased with the amazing set design that resembled the dashboard, wheel, and rearview mirror of a car. It was as if the audience was in the backseat along for the ride. There were even moments in the show in which the crowd was featured in the rearview mirror of the car. Weezer entered the stage to a standing crowd as far as the eye could see and all cell phones were out. It seemed like most of the crowd was there to live in the moment.
In an interview, Rivers Cuomo said one of his song-writing goals is to make songs that sound good acoustically or with just a piano. Which makes sense as some of my favorite moments included the acoustic songs. A night highlight included a collaboration with openers Momma and Weezer on “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” which was originally a duet between Rivers and Rachel Haden. Though a 90s song it was never performed live by Weezer during that time. Rivers and Momma did a wonderful job together. Weezer’s setlist is full of gems with some deep cuts. As a band they have some of my favorite B sides; tracks that would do well as their own album.
Of course, they played fan favorites such as “Undone- The Sweater Song.” According to Cuomo the riff was inspired by Metallica’s “Sanitarium”. Which is funny because his intent was to write a Velvet Underground song. Wheezer’s musicality and musical appreciation shines in their riffs. One of my core band nerd memories involved a fellow tubist playing “Hash Pipe” on his sousaphone. Weezer teased the audience with the first few chords between songs but played it later in their set. The audience showed appreciation for Weezer outside of their biggest hits- they played an eclectic mix of their decades-long catalog. They played fan faves “Beverly Hills”, “Hash Pipe, “Island in the Sun” but saved a few biggies for the encore (like “Buddy Holly”).
Weezer’s most recent project, SZNZ, represents the 4 seasons. Each season has a main emotion and genre. Spring’s emotion is optimistic and supposed to sound like Island in the Sun. Summer represents anger meant to sound like 1990s alternative rock. Autumn is anxious and sounds like dance rock (think Franz Ferdinand). Winter’s primary emotion is sadness and like a 1990s songwriter (Elliott Smith). Music lovers will want to listen to this and join Weezer and friends on their next stop of the tour. It’s an experience that will stick with you more than the Texas heat.
Modest Mouse Setlist
1.Doin’ the Cockroach
3.We Are Between
5.Ocean Breathes Salty
6.Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
7.Back to the Middle
9.Fire It Up
12.Fuck Your Acid Trip
1.My Name Is Jonas
3.Return to Ithaka
4.The Good Life
5.Pork and Beans (with “1 More Hit” intro)
8.I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams (with Momma) (Tour debut)
9.Blast Off! (Rivers Cuomo song)
10.Undone – The Sweater Song
- Africa (Toto cover) (Acoustic; Tour debut)
13.Only in Dreams
14.The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)
15.Island in the Sun
17.All My Favorite Songs
18.Say It Ain’t So
19.Run, Raven, Run (Solo only)
- Hash Pipe
21.Thank You and Good Night
22.The Waste Land
23.Surf Wax America
Check out all our photos from the show and more on Austin 101 Magazine.