Concert Reviews

Weezer covers Gaga and MGMT, embraces its rock-star status at Mile High Music Festival

Weezer, 6:45 p.m. on the Wolf Stage A piercing series of guitar lines, the push of a pounding drum line and synchronized singing syllables lent an epic feel to the beginning of Weezer's set.

As soon as Rivers Cuomo and company took the stage, it seemed the band was working hard to create a large-scale sense with the set, the illusion that the performance was taking place outside the confines of the festival. Despite the pre-alloted time slot, the band disappeared and reappeared for two encores, lending the show a sense of unpredictability. The overall effect was impressive and hypnotic, with the set easily yielding some of the best moments of the entire festival.

What's more, Cuomo's seemingly limitless store of energy made the performance feel more like an intimate appearance at a theater. At one point during "Beverly Hills," Cuomo wandered off stage, through the throngs of fans reaching to shake his hand around the control booth, making a full circle before returning to the stage.

Combined with sharp, powerful renditions of tunes from the band's entire catalogue, the antics lent for an engaging and compelling concert, one that felt like a quintessential rock show at its best.

The chorus of crowd voices singing along to songs like "Say It Ain't So," "Surf Wax USA" and "My Name Is Jonas" was deafening. Cuomo played the first segment of the "Island in the Sun" solo, encouraging the entire audience to make up for the lack of instrumentation with their voices. The rest of the band helped keep the dynamic of the sound diverse: Brian Bell jumped on the Moog for a number of tunes, bassist Scott Shriner sang lead vocals on a few songs, and Patrick Wilson offered a straightahead arena-rock drum solo for the group's first encore.

The band even offered a few unlikely covers: A solid version of MGMT's "Kids" suddenly morphed into a brief version of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," with Cuomo donning a wig and delivering the tune in a raspy, suggestive growl.

The sudden shifts in instrumentation, the band's constant energy and the scope of the set list kept the hour-plus performance dynamic and constantly surprising. For as much play as tunes like "Beverly Hills" and "Island in the Sun" have received on the radio waves and on television, the group made the favorites seem fresh. Since songs from the new album, Hurley, were peppered among audience favorites, the crowd's attention span didn't lapse.

The set showed Weezer in a new light for me and highlighted one of the group's strongest assets: its sheer presence on stage. As much as the band's first album was a constant presence in my teenage years, and as much as I've heard many of the tunes countless times on the airwaves, the catalogue seemed more legitimate in a live setting.

Weezer showed no qualms about being a rock band playing easily recognizable and straightforward pop tunes. Their full-fledged embrace of this profile made their performance much more than an average festival appearance.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
A.H. Goldstein