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Weezer takes fans back to '90s


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001

TAMPA -- Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo knows all about the one who got away. Almost every song he sings in his fine L.A.-based alternative rock quartet details the hapless narrator's romantic missteps. Cuomo performed with Weezer on Monday at USF'S Sun Dome as headliners for the Yahoo Outloud Tour, singing in the voice of a young man pining for an assortment of unresponsive ladies.

Cuomo wore his heart on his sleeve for the cello-playing "half-Japanese girls" of El Scorcho who have never heard of his beloved Green Day. Cuomo longed for another young lady, only to notice she sports a pink triangle on her sleeve, letting the singer know of their incompatible sexual orientations.

Cuomo, himself, almost got away. When last we heard from Weezer, the band scored two MTV hits in 1994 with Buddy Holly, famous for its fun video of Weezer spliced into old Happy Days footage, and Undone -- The Sweater Song, both from the band's stellar eponymous debut. Its follow-up, the critically underappreciated Pinkerton, was a commercial dud. Weezer went on hiatus, with Cuomo going back to Harvard.

So, six years later, how did a reformed Weezer (original bassist Matt Sharp is gone), with no current hits and a sound out of tune with pop's current rap rock landscape, fill the Sun Dome with nearly 8,500 dancing college students?

You can thank the Internet for that, specifically, media company Yahoo. In a collaboration with Weezer, Ticketmaster, and promoters in 21 cities across the U.S., Yahoo brought Weezer and the Get Up Kids, chosen as the tour's opening act by fans on the Internet, to 60 college campuses for $15. (That's roughly half the average ticket cost, with 90 percent of the tour's tickets sold online. That means, no service charges and no waiting in line.)

If that isn't seductive enough, there is Weezer's music. Most of the audience's twentysomethings weren't college students when Weezer was earning critical raves, but they are old enough to remember the band's smart, bouncy pop, and its clever lyrics.

Monday seemed a throwback to the glory days of early 1990s alt-rock, ruled by sensitive men like Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder and, certainly, Rivers Cuomo -- although Cuomo's sensitivity is tinged with irony.

Like Cuomo's lyrics, fans celebrated pop culture. One fan sported an Alice In Chains T-shirt, but rather than a photo of the Seattle grunge band, the shirt featured the visage of the Brady family's wisecracking maid on The Brady Bunch.

Weezer delighted fans with that sort of moxie. My Name Is Jonas, No One Else and The Good Life, the last of which is a lament of an aging scenester trying his hand at being hip again, never sounded so good.

"I gotta get back, I gotta get back," Rivers sang. "I don't even know how I got off the track." Yes, you must come back, Mr. Cuomo. And, let's hope for the sake of pop music, you stick around longer this time.

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