I swear I’m not Vincent Chase. I don’t normally spend my evenings at lavishly decorated hotels in Hollywood, accompanied by such names as Lamar Odom, whatsherface Kardashian, Weezer, Jorge Garcia (Hurley from LOST), and My Chemical Romance.
I am also not accustomed to being provided with all the free food and all the booze I could ever desire. Despite the impracticality of all of these things, they somehow all happened last night.
I heard about AXE’s “One Night Only” super-secret concert thing on the radio last week, and when I found out Weezer was playing the special gig, I made sure to get some tickets. The event was being held at the Dunes Inn in Hollywood, a random spot that proved for a random evening.
Since it’s Hollywood and these types of events are generally reserved for the “people who know people” type of people, I was expecting this to be a big mess of cameras and noise and irritatingly flashily-dressed socialites mingling and paying little attention to the music.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of that (Odom, apparently not much of a Weezer fan, spent most of his time in one of the cordoned-off motel rooms), but the spectacle on stage was among the silliest I’ve ever witnessed. I did become a bit disillusioned to see that Khloe Kardashian wasn’t, in fact, a die-hard Weezer fan. I suppose she didn’t grow up listening to Pinkerton every day. Sad face.
I can now finally say I’ve experienced the kind of event that people outside of LA assume happens every day. It just took me two years of living down here for this to happen.
The tickets the AXE people gave away did not guarantee admission, so my friend and I headed down to the “venue” at around 3:30.
We got in the modest line around 4:15, and began our wait until doors opened at 7:00 pm (or so the tickets stated). As the clock slowly crept closer to 7, people in the line began getting antsy. This was only made worse when AXE hype people walked up and down the line encouraging us to scream and cheer and yell and look excited. Then, randomly, these AXE people would take chunks of the crowd (we’re talking like 15-20 each time) and move them up to the FRONT of the VIP line. The VIP line, we were told, would enter the venue before everyone else.
This became insufferable when they took a bunch of people at the END of the line, who had been there barely an hour, and allowed them to skip all the way to the front, ahead of those of us who had been in line three times longer than they had.
That’s just absurd, frankly.
The AXE Twitter feed said that these were “contest winners” who were in the “wrong line” or something, but that was nonsense. The people around me who got snapped up and sent on their way to the Promised Land of super-cool VIP-ness had not won anything, they just screamed on command.
7 pm came and went. Still in line. Then, slowly, the VIP line diminished and they told us “okay guys, your turn! Woo!” and all that. They let in a few, and then we moved up to the front section of the queue, but not without being a bit forceful. The beefy security guards were doing that “hmm let’s see, we should cut the line about…here” thing, and were ALMOST going to stop the line before us, but we slipped in JUST barely in time.
This was cool, and it was even more miraculous when we heard from the fire marshal that we’d be THE LAST PEOPLE ADMITTED IN PERIOD. That means, hundreds of people behind us in line got totally left in the dark. That sucks for those true Weezer fans who actually spent all day in line for nothing, and is already becoming a PR nightmare on AXE’s Facebook account.
Anyway, back to the actual show.
The hybrid funk/jazz/fusion band Kinky was set to open the show, but I heard they never played. By the time we got in the converted motel parking lot stage, it was almost time for Weezer.
There was an open bar and free food (yes!), which we took advantage of quickly.
When it was time for Weezer, Jorge Garcia (Hurley from LOST, the guy whose mug adorns Weezer’s just-released album Hurley) popped up on stage and introduced the band.
After a slick instrumental jam intro thing, Rivers Cuomo & pals ripped into Hash Pipe, and it was on. Despite the holier-than-thou VIP Hollywood special people contingent scattered throughout the crowd, I was actually impressed at the energy level of the event. Most people seemed like they cared, and were singing/dancing along, but that might be partly due to the free booze. Who knows.
Either way, Weezer put on a fantastic show. It’s obvious at this point that neither Rivers or the band give a shit about “selling out”, as Cuomo repeatedly referenced using Axe body spray and AXE products throughout the night. They may be sponsored by the clothing line Hurley and hock deodorant to fancy people in motel parking lots, but you can’t say Weezer doesn’t put on one of the most entertaining live shows today.
Rivers was at his oh-so-eccentric best, running around the entire motel complex, jumping up and down on the bar, and even opening the public bathrooms, singing into them, and then awkwardly caressing a bush and climbing a garbage dumpster to get on top of a roof and be an all-around weird guy. Here’s my video of that moment, which came during the band’s MGMT/Lady Gaga medley.
Setlist-wise, the only new song was Memories. Most of the set were Weezer Greatest Hits, but with the added tweak of Jorge Garcia, who came out and seemed to have a blast singing with Rivers on Perfect Situation. To say that was unexpected would be the biggest of understatements. I'm still not quite sure if I was hallucinating this moment.
Even more unexpected was the appearance of My Chemical Romance, the emo rockers who are prepping a new record themselves. They came out and helped perform My Name is Jonas, with Gerard Way on vocals and MCR’s guitarists adding to the auditory assault onstage.
It was SUCH a Hollywood moment, one of those all-star celebrity rock band hangout jam session cover gig type of things.
It was great watching Josh Freese smash the shit out of the drums, as newly freed guitarist/ex-drummer Pat Wilson slashed it up on lead guitar, opposite other lead guitarist Brian Bell. Scott Shriner was active onstage, moving all around while playing his bass that propelled each song.
Weezer played a 19-song set, and it lasted a bit over an hour. I was afraid this would be a short, 7 or 8 song set, given the promotional background of this event, but instead we got quite a treat.
After the final notes of Buddy Holly faded out, and the band finished their intense drum session (in which Rivers banged drumsticks on the light-up “=W=” backdrop, it hit me that this was one of the most amazing gigs I’ve ever seen. Leave it to Hollywood to do this to me. I honestly felt like I had wandered onto the Entourage set, with free stuff thrown at my face at every turn.
I managed to snag a picture with Garcia, who was a pretty cool dude.
We also had a small chat with Karl Koch, the guy who runs all of Weezer’s internet websites and is in charge of everything. He was also pretty cool, as was Josh Freese.
After security squeezed us outside the motel, we finagled our way back in and got a picture with Gerard of MCR, who said their upcoming album was going to “kick ass” or be “bananas” or something. Good times.
The night was incredible, and pretty much the quintessential “LA Experience” that I hadn’t yet experienced down here.
I’m extremely lucky to have been there, and I just wish AXE had handled it better. Don’t give away so many HUNDREDS of extra tickets if you’re just going to leave most people out in the cold.
Too many people wasted too much time in their day just to be turned away at the gate.
Still, it was a great commercial for Weezer, AXE, and the so-called “Hollywood lifestyle”.
And man, Rivers is so crazy onstage.
I wish more people (as in real Weezer fans, not just LA socialites and friends of friends) had been able to witness the whole ridiculous spectacle.
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