Weezer / the Trews / the Flatliners Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton AB, April 4

Weezer / the Trews / the Flatliners Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton AB, April 4
Photo: Dana Zuk

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In the midst of a quick six-date tour through Western Canada, Weezer celebrated the warmer weather and sunshine with Edmonton fans at the Shaw Conference Centre on Tuesday (April 4) night. With their first appearance in Alberta's capital since Sonic Boom Festival in 2013, the California power-pop group played to an overjoyed audience of all ages.
 
While people were still filing in, punk-rockers the Flatliners stepped onstage, playing tunes from their upcoming fifth album, Inviting Light, which comes out later this week. Though the Ontario-based four-piece have gained a devoted fan-base over the last 15 years by playing in bars and clubs, the band's raw-edged guitars and frontman Chris Cresswell's snarl still radiated through in the cavernous event space to great reception from the crowd.
 
Not faring as well were Canadiana veterans the Trews, who are no strangers to playing larger rooms. Having just released a greatest hits album entitled Time Capsule, it's now been well over a decade since their catchy singles ("Not Ready to Go," "Tired of Waiting") were all over Canadian airwaves. While the group are seasoned performers, the Trews' brand of meat and potatoes rock'n'roll felt predictable and dated. The crowd seemed to agree — they were here to see Weezer.
 
Rivers Cuomo and the gang casually appeared on stage with little intensity before launching into the crunchy power chords of "Hash Pipe." Immediately afterward, the large winged-W logo lit up behind them, prompting the band to get right into Weezer staple "My Name is Jonas" as hardcore fans held up the famed two-handed W-symbol.
 
There were some awkward moments during the next part of the set. Cuomo spent a lot of time aimlessly wandering around the stage, causing bassist Scott Shriner and guitarist Brian Bell to take over some of the vocal duty at times. On Weezer's newest single, "Feels Like Summer," Cuomo ditched the guitar completely in favour of tacky synths, which would hardly have sounded like the band at all if it wasn't for Cuomo's recognizably boyish vocals hitting the high falsetto notes. The crowd was noticeably confused and caught off guard by the generic pop anthem, which hasn't quite made it into regular radio rotation yet.
 
While there isn't much banter or theatrics to a Weezer show, the band make up for it by ensuring every song is a fan favourite.
 
All the right nostalgic buttons were pushed — full, fuzzy and highly memorable guitar riffs, Cuomo's wacky lyricism and knack for an unforgettable chorus, and drummer Patrick Wilson keeping it together like clockwork. Perhaps a rarity among current rock bands, Weezer may have too many fan favourites to be able to play them all in one show. Instead, the band opted to compress a bunch of their heavier singles, including "Dope Nose," "Keep Fishin'" and "Surf Wax America" into a rapid-fire, if somewhat clumsy, medley.
 
In sly Cuomo fashion, it turns out the riff in "King of the World" that sounds suspiciously like a rip-off of "Only in Dreams" was totally recycled on purpose, as Shriner used that familiar bass line to transition into the climatic Blue Album closing track. But Weezer ended the main part of the set on an even higher note with "Say It Ain't So," which features one of the most iconic rock choruses of the '90s.
 
The wiry "El Scorcho," the only full Pinkerton song Weezer plays these days, and another classic, "Buddy Holly," fulfilled the short two-song encore, as confetti cannons spewed out red and white confetti to mark the end of the 75-minute sing-along show.
 
Regardless of whether or not Weezer's most recent effort, last year's The White Album, was indeed a return to form, the band ignored most of their new and non-single material, choosing to play nothing but the hits. Weezer's influence on rock radio in the last 25 years is not to be understated — everyone from the most diehard fans to the casual music listener knew most of the words to these songs.
 
The transition of the band from nerdy, soft-spoken rockers to goofy hyper-dads has been astonishing, but not surprising. In Cuomo's own words on 2009's "Pork and Beans," he proclaims "I'ma do the things that I wanna do ... I don't give a hoot about what you think," which probably solidified his chosen path of increasingly silly lyrics and ridiculously cheesy guitar riffage.
 
Yet, there's no denying Weezer is a fantastically catchy band, and every album has had at least one or two songs that never leave our heads. The band know their fans want to hear the good stuff, and going to a Weezer concert is pretty much a guarantee of that.