Written by Sleep State
In 2010, at the annual US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, I had the privilege of attending one of the best and most memorable concerts of my life. Seeing Weezer’s set, more than any other experience, has showed me just how much I was missing by not seeing live music performed more often.
Immediately upon arriving, I was awed by the sheer size of the crowd. Although it was a free concert, everyone in attendance seemed to radiate genuine enthusiasm. You could “feel” how present and excited everyone was. Despite the strict “no beach balls” rule enforced by the event’s security staff, the minute frontman Rivers Cuomo took the stage, a melee of inflated beach balls erupted into the audience. The group began to play their hits to an audience that swayed and sang along. Cuomo performed most of the set without a guitar, but his stage presence was magnetic, and his performance showed me how a charismatic, energetic frontman can captivate an audience’s attention.
At times throughout the performance, Cuomo channeled an almost “Freddie Mercury-esque” vibe, whimsically dancing around the stage, dodging videographers and their equipment. During “Troublemaker,” he even commandeered a swivel camera. He showed his immense gratitude to the crowd by frequently reaching down and touching the hands of fans in the front rows. He even hugged a girl who hopped on stage, allowing her to stay and sing a song with him.
Although I was straight sober, I was soon overcome by an involuntary “high” of energy and needed to let loose. Sporadic mosh pits broke out and I made sure to get involved. This was my first time moshing, but I strongly feel that the mosh pits at this show set the gold standard. No one was too pushy or aggressive, and as soon as someone hit the ground, those in the vicinity quickly scooped the fallen comrade up and out of harm’s way. This feeling of mutual care and respect permeated the concert. People were there to simply enjoy quality music in the presence of other like-minded individuals. This warm, loving feeling was also on display when people began to crowd-surf. I was surprised at the selflessness of the strangers nearest me, when they asked, unprompted, if I’d like to “get up there.” While I only crowd-surfed for all of ten seconds, the raw joy I felt up there above those singing, dancing fans was indescribable.
As the show reached its climax, the crowd was so close-pressed, body-to-body, that it moved as one mass, flowing like the ocean on the horizon. The band played a cover of “Kids” by MGMT, and the crowd went wild. In the middle of the song, Cuomo put on a platinum blonde wig and merged the song with a rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” It was inspiring to see someone so carefree and confident, totally unconcerned with what anyone thought of him.
The show ended and fans began dispersing in a fog of dazed wonderment. You could tell that everyone – no matter how familiar they had been with Weezer’s body of work going in – had their expectations surpassed and then some. The entire crowd glowed with the unifying energy that the band had imparted. That experience helped ignite my passion for live music, and showed me how a charismatic, uninhibited performer can take thousands of individuals and forge a community, making a whole greater than the sum of its parts.