Monday, January 10, 2011

The Weekend of Weezer

Weezer is a pretty awesome band. I consider their debut album (the "Blue Album") to be one of my favorites, and their sophomore effort Pinkerton is pretty damn good as well. You can imagine I was pretty excited several month ago when I heard about their Memories tour, which was coming to Chicago to The Aragon.

In the Memories tour, the band plays the Blue Album in its entirety one night, and then Pinkerton in its entirety the next night. Both shows also have "greatest hits" sets, which are different both nights. This past Friday night was the Blue Album, and Saturday was Pinkerton. I've heard of other bands doing "album" tours. Judas Priest doing British Steel and Heart doing Dreamboat Annie come to mind. I didn't see either of those (although they both would have been pretty awesome). Needless to say, I had been looking forward to this weekend since October.

My college friend and giant Weezer fan Mounty Belanger came into town for the weekend. Jester and I shipped Daughter out to grandma's. That FedEx Ground is a godsend, by the way. Thus, the ability to sleep in and general excitement of the weekend made it ripe for debauchery.

The group was rather large Friday night, and we all gathered at Fat Cat, a bar about a block from The Aragon for dinner. Among the attendees were me, Jester, Mounty, Chenandler Bong, Lisa, Hanig, Allison, Gregerson, Daniel, Non-Italian Phil, Goni, and Bonham. Plus, Tron and Magdog joined us for dinner (but were not going to the show).

We were slamming beers and eating ravenously, so that we would not miss the relatively early 7:30 show start time. Apparently, we impressed the manager, because she invited us back to the bar for free post-show shots. Also, the DJ played "The Wizard" by Black Sabbath, which is pretty cool.

Friday night's show was fantastic. After their "greatest hits" set -- in which Rivers Cuomo ventured into the crowd, as well as up into the balconies via a stack of amps -- the band took a break and the kids from the local School of Rock came out and played two songs ("El Scorcho" and "Good Life," I think). There is something rather hilarious about seeing a 13-year-old boy who looks like Carrot Top belt out "God damn you half-Japanese girls / Do it to me every time." Then, Karl Koch, Weezer's webmaster and documenter (and friend) came out and showed us a slideshow of early photos and concert posters. Then, Weezer came back out and played the Blue Album front to back. It was predictably awesome.

Here are some shots of the first night:
What wasn't awesome was that it took us a half hour to get out of The Aragon. The coat check is in the basement, but it lets out right by the bottom of the stairs from the ballroom. Thus, everyone waiting to get their coats blocked the exit, and it was slow going. Kudos to Goni, who had the foresight to get the coats with a couple songs to go, which at least saved us an extra 15-20 minutes.

After the show, we went back to Fat Cat, and had some free shots and non-free beers. Meanwhile, the DJ was playing a fantastic collection of early to mid '90s alternative rock. As the group began to disperse, some of us wanted to stay out. Gregerson, Mounty, Goni, Bonham, and I decided to head to Rocks. We piled into a cab, which got us there in record time, without regard for red lights or speed limits.

We got to Rocks probably around 12:30 or 1. I immediately put money into the jukebox. It was relatively empty. George, the co-owner who Mounty, Goni, and I know from IU, was bartending. Upon greeting us, he told us that some chick sitting at the bar went to Purdue, pretty much for the sole purpose of baiting us into making fun of her. Done and done. You know a line that never gets old? I do. It's: I love watching games in Mackey Arena because there aren't any NCAA championship banners to block my view. Depending on the drunkenness of the Purdue fan to whom you are speaking, there are usually one of two answers. The first is "Dang it." The second is "We won a women's NCAA basketball title in 1999." No response is necessary when they say that, other than maybe "Yes, and you rioted afterward."

With her was some chick who looked kind of like a shorter version Xena (the Warrior Princess), who started talking to a couple of us. I tell you what, crazy chicks are always fun to talk to. The first thing she says to anyone is that she's an MMA fighter. Clearly. She then told us she had been mugged by five guys on the L earlier that day, which resulted in a large bruise on her leg, but that was the only damage. They didn't get anything because, well, she's an MMA fighter. Jokingly, Goni said, "Bullshit. Show us." So, she dropped trou right there in the middle of the bar and showed us the giant bruise on her hammy. Her story then subsequently changed, such that she got the bruise during MMA training. She also said that her dad used to play for the Seahawks. When we showed any mild knowledge of Seahawks football (i.e., "Steve Largent? Jim Zorn? Kenny Easley?"), she said he only played for one game back in the mid '80s. She also informed us that New York is better than Chicago. Why? In New York, she didn't have to wear cleats when she played flag football, but in Chicago, she had to get cleats. Apparently the grass is never wet in New York. This was too much for Bonham to take, so he kicked her in her other leg and sprinted away, never to be seen again.

After closing Rocks down, we headed to Yakzee's, a late night bar on Diversey that I thought was closed, but apparently is open again. Last time I was there, I was probably about 24, and I was sitting next to a table full of dudes who were slamming their beers and glasses onto the ground under their table whenever they finished a drink. There was a pile of glass under the table, yet they didn't get kicked out. Rather, they kept getting served.

Anyway, it was pretty packed, as you might imagine, since everyone was excited Mounty was in town. We grabbed some beers and a booth. At one point, while Gregerson was up, some kid who couldn't have been more than 22 walked by us, then sat down at the booth, apparently sensing (incorrectly, mind you) that Mounty, Goni, and I were good people to ask about girl problems. You see, this kid was in a pickle. He came to the bar with this one chick he was going to hook up with. He was hanging out with her at the bar close to the door. But then, some waitress from another bar showed up. He wants to bang her, and she wants to bang him. She didn't see him, and she walked past him to the back of the bar. A classic hot zone. What should he do? Luckily, the girls didn't know each other. We gave him three options: (1) grab the one closest to the door and get the fuck out of there before the waitress sees you; (2) throw caution to the wind, grab the one who's more likely DTF -- and yes, we used that exact term -- and get the fuck out of there; or (3) for the love of God, let us live vicariously through you, and take them both home tonight. Instead, he chose Option #4: continue to sit down at our booth every few minutes to give us status updates, thus convincing us that he was more interested in talking to three 30-something dudes than banging two 20-something chicks. He'll figure it out one of these days.

Around 3:30, we got hungry, so we did what any group of dudes trying to relive college does: went to LaBamba. I tore into some super steak nachos.
When my head hit the pillow, it was about 4:30. I love my kid, don't get me wrong, but it was a nice feeling knowing that I didn't have to get up for anything on Saturday.

I woke up around noon Saturday. Jester went shopping by herself. After conversing for several minutes and then eating some bacon and scrambled eggs with our hands and forks, respectively, Mounty and I spent several hours playing Beatles Rock Band.

At 3:30, we headed to Rocks to watch the Saints/Seahawks game. Around that time, we heard about the shooting in Arizona. You know how I feel about hand guns. If not, please see the lyrics of Lynyrd Skykyrd's "Saturday Night Special." As more details have come out about the shooter, his history, his apparent mental health problems, how he got the gun, and Arizona's lenient gun laws, I am hard-pressed to find a good reason why he was allowed to purchase a hand gun and conceal it without a permit (the latter thanks to Arizona's law). To be honest, I don't know how extensive mental health checks are before someone is allowed to buy a gun, but it seems to me like someone like this should not have been allowed to own any firearms, much less one that had a magazine with 30 rounds that he could conceal without a permit.

Back to less depressing topics. With the closing of The Pitch, Rocks is now a Saints bar, which means they have New Orleans-based specials during Saints games, including $3 Abitas (and they have Turbodog on tap). So, we at some Cajun food, drank some Abita, and watched as Saints fans broke down faster than a poorly designed levee. That Marshawn Lynch run was ridiculous.

Our crowd for Saturday night's Weezer show was much smaller in number than for Friday night's show. Goni was nice enough to drive Hanig, Allison, Mounty, and I to the show, where we met Daniel and headed into The Aragon for the second night of bliss. Mounty won an autographed copy of the band's Hurley CD, so that was cool.

Saturday night was more for the hardcore fans than Friday night. Pinkerton is generally less well-known to the masses as it is, but the band also busted out some b-sides during the "greatest hits" set. Mounty and I were especially thrilled when they played "Susanne," which is an old, Blue Album-era b-side that plays at the end of Mallrats (a movie both of us love). The School of Rock kids played "Surf Wax America" and I think something else off of the Blue Album.
Here are some shots from night two, of the greatest hits set and the Pinkerton set, respectively:
In between the opening band and Weezer, we noticed this dude standing in front of us. You ever meet or see people that, right off the bat, there is something about them that innately grates you, and you just want to hit them in the head with a ball-peen hammer? This was one of those guys. He had a shaggy haircut (like a hipster Bieber) and one of the worst beards I've ever seen, like when a high schooler who can't really grow facial hair stops shaving for three years. It looked like pubic hair, and it was unkempt. He was rail thin. I think Daughter's arms were thicker than his (granted, she is an Amazon, but she's only 13 months old). His most annoying trait, however, was not physical. Somehow, he was there with a girl who was, quite frankly, out of his league. She wasn't overly attractive or anything, but based on this guy's beard alone, he had no business being with her. In between the opening band and Weezer, she went to the bathroom. I kid you not, this fucking Klopek turned around looking for her every five seconds from the instant she left until 20 minutes later when she returned. You just wanted to go up to the guy and say, "Don't worry. She's coming back. I just finished plowing her in the bathroom, and there were only a couple guys in line behind me." I also wanted to cut his beard. And hit him in the head with a ball-peen hammer. Upon her return, he proceeded to put his feeble hand on the small of her back, pushing her forward or towards him every time I crept up behind her and smelled her hair.

Having learned our lesson from the night before, we brought lighter coats, didn't check them, and headed towards the back during the last song. Thus, we walked right out after the show ended and walked right to the L, walked right on, walked right off at the Fullerton stop, walked right into a cab, and walked right into the Burwood Tap, my former favorite bar in Chicago.

Morgan met us at the Burwood. Bottles of Bud Light were consumed. Burwood popcorn (which is still delicious) was consumed. We watched a guy get kicked out, which is always fun. When a bouncer is about nine inches taller than you, it's generally not a good idea to get in his face when he tries to kick you out. Even though we were only a block from LaBamba, we did not try the rare "Two Bamba's Trips in Two Nights." Instead, we just went home, where, according to Jester, I snored in the melody of "Tired of Sex." I assured her that she shouldn't read anything into that.

Last night, I bought some Weezer b-sides (including "Susanne") on iTunes, as well as their most recent album, Death to False Metal, which is a collection of unreleased songs, and it pretty good. Today at work, I listened to that album. The original name of Death to False Metal was Odds and Ends. Immediately after I was finished listening to the album, I hit the "Shuffle Songs" option on my iPod. Out of the 9,336 songs currently on my iPod, what do you think was the first one to show up? "Odds and Ends" by Bob Dylan & The Band. Hello! I immediately called the bearded dude's girlfriend, since I knew she would find that coincidence interesting. I call her Butterfly. Because she's my flower. And I'm her butterfly. We don't know why. We just feel it. Did you guys see the size of that chicken?

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