Weezer breezes into Vail | VailDaily.com

Weezer breezes into Vail

Alex Miller
Vail, CO Colorado
Weezer has plans for another studio album in 2011. They perform a free show at Ford Park Sunday.

VAIL, Colorado – This is one busy band: In the past three years, Weezer has released no less than three new studio albums (“The Red Album,” “Raditude” and “Hurley”) as well as an odds-and-ends compilation (“Death to False Metal”) and a reissue of 1996’s “Pinkerton.” Colorado fans have been able to catch them once or twice annually during this time, with the band’s last Colorado appearance just this past summer on a very hot day at the Mile High Music Festival.

At Mile High, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo took the band through a high-energy set that touched on almost every stage of the band’s career. According to bassist Scott Shriner, that’s the kind of show the band will bring to Vail Sunday when they play for Snow Daze.

“It’ll be pretty much our festival show, like greatest hits,” Shriner said in a phone interview from California Friday. “We’ll probably throw in a song or two off ‘Hurley’ as well.”

In the past year, Weezer has continued to mix things up on stage. Original drummer Pat Wilson has been learning guitar and is coming out from behind his kit to play while touring drummer Josh Freese takes over for part of every show. Cuomo – who’s a pretty good guitarist in his own right – is now free to run around just singing, although he still plays as well. Other band members also take turns with lead singing duties – which can be disconcerting for long-time fans who love the way Cuomo belts them out – but it does help keep the band’s “oldies” from growing stale.

Shriner, who often sings the Weezer staples “Perfect Situation” and “Dope Nose,” among others, said the changes have had multiple benefits for the band.

“Rivers has really been trying to put a lot more energy into the band lately,” he said. “He also enjoys having a bit of a break from singing, and he knows singing also makes us happy, so he encourages it.”

At the same time, Shriner acknowledges the fact that sometimes hard-core Weezer fans can be disappointed hearing a favorite sung by anyone other than Cuomo.

“But we have a good time, and I’m happy to help out,” he said.

Weezer is in the midst of its “Memories Tour,” doing full-album concerts of its first two releases “The Blue Album” and the recently re-released “Pinkerton” in their entirety. Shriner said the reaction ranges from people getting so excited that they’re crowd surfing, whereas others get a bit more rhapsodic about the experience.

“I’ve seen people just standing there weeping,” he said. “People have just really wanted to hear some of these songs live for a long time and never heard them, so it can be pretty exciting.”

(If you’d like to hear “The Blue Album” in its entirety, hop a plane to Boston, where the band will perform it at The Orpheum on Tuesday, with “Pinkerton” the following night.)

A Weezer show is a study in a high-energy rock band that’s very tight nowadays – both musically and as a group of guys who, as Shriner says, may as well be married.

“The band is functioning really well and we’re all just happier and more productive,” Shriner said.

It shows in the live appearances. In concert, Cuomo loves to interact with the audience and get into the crowd. At Mile High, he left the stage and did a complete circuit of the audience, singing and high-fiving as he went. In Broomfield a few years ago, he had people up on stage playing along with Weezer classics – the so-called “Hootenanny Tour.” I caught them again at Fiddler’s Green in Denver in 2009 with headliner Blink 182 and watched as Blink was blown out of the water by a very fired-up Weezer.

For the Vail show, Shriner said he’s prepared for whatever the weather might dish out.

“I’ve got a big coat and I’m ready for anything,” he said. Shriner, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, said his early band used to play at an event called “Winterfest” in a tent with no heaters.

“It makes me play a little slower (the cold),” he said. “Maybe that’s a good thing.”

Weezer may be at the point in its career where it’s not going to surprise anyone with its next album – but with another studio release planned for 2011, one never knows. For now, it’s fair to say the band is at its peak for live performance, and if they can keep their fingers warm enough, Rivers, Shriner, Wilson and guitarist Brian Bell should really heat up Ford Park Sunday night.

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