November 1, 2011
It’s on. I just paid off the balance we owed for a cabin on the Weezer Cruise. Having once worked for a cruise line (wearing the monkey suit at the Port of Miami and all) and taken advantage of “taxes only cruises” including a trans-Atlantic one that cost me about $150, I had resigned myself to never do another cruise again. Well, here comes the Weezer Cruise, offering a line-up on a Carnival cruise ship that includes many an intriguing band from the early indie rock days of Generation X (led by Weezer, of course) to today’s kids (including Yuck, who seem to recall the early nineties lo-fi sound with astounding devotion). The complete line-up includes:
- Dinosaur Jr.
- J. Masics
- Lou Barlow (seems the original Dinosaur Jr. reunion is still going strong)
- Gene Ween and Dave Driewitz (a good part of Ween)
- The Antlers
- Free Energy
- Boom Bip
- Ozma (whose keyboardist, Star Wick, will teach yoga on board, while guitarist Jose Galvez will host 80s karaoke in the eveings)
- The Nervous Wreckords
- The Knocks
- Sleeper Agent
- and Yacht Rock Revue (whoever that may be…)
It appears to be a much mellower, sensitive group of bands— with some strange wit thrown into the mix— than an earlier similar-themed cruise with another alt-pop nineties act, 311, headlining (I just learned a second cruise featuring 311 will happen in 2012). Among many other nautical music festivals designed by Sixthman, catching 311 on a cruise ship really did not make me blink. But when I received the email announcing the sale of space aboard the Weezer Cruise a couple weeks ago, the line-up dazzled these eyes.
I remember attending a Weezer concert, very vaguely, in 1996 at some large club in Fort Lauderdale that I think no longer exists. I thought their “Sweater Song” was annoying, and I had never heard the then new album Pinkerton. I think I had some free tickets, invited by an old friend I must have fallen out of touch with. The memory of the show faded into memory as something close to… meh. My devotions to nineties bands, stayed in the world of the slightly more “underground”: post-rock, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo, the Sea and Cake, Red House Painters, Spiritualized, Swans and such. Only many years after graduating college would I later come to appreciate that I was a fan of Radiohead and even Flaming Lips. Weezer, in the meantime, has remained a distant, hazy college memory that was just a part of the flavor of the era.
The moment I really felt convinced this cruise might be worth attending came when my eyes gravitated to the fact that Dinosaur Jr. will be a great part of the schedule. Besides Dinosaur Jr., frontman/guitarist/J. Masics will play solo shows. Then there are shows by Sebadoh, the band Dinosaur Jr. bassist and singer Lou Barlow fronted on the side in the late eighties. Plus, he too will perform solo shows. Barlow would later dedicate himself to Sebadoh in the nineties after Dinosaur Jr. signed to a major label and he was kicked out of that band. I have such affection for Sebadoh that I consider the home-recorded Freed Weed some sort of odd masterpiece where the songs are as much about the lo-fi recording technique that preserved them as the writing. I met Barlow once at an in-store performance at the long-disappeared Blue Note Records in North Miami Beach, sometime in the early to mid-nineties, and told him how much I loved Freed Weed for that quality. He modestly suggested I check out Smog, but I still have a soft spot for some of the surprising and serendipitous gorgeousity of the noise hidden in the cracks of Freed Weed. Yes, for me this will be the great Dinosaur Jr. family tree show over a period of four days that will happen to unfold on a Carnival Cruise ship. My own subconscious could not have concocted a stranger dream (and I have experienced concerts of a Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis— costumes and all— at a weakly-attended Miami Beach club and saw early Stereolab at a shopping mall in my dreams).
The bonuses are nothing to sneeze at. Yuck, who have been celebrated by a seeming nostalgia for the nineties-era indie sound of such artists like Pavement and Archers of Loaf, Superchunk and even Sonic Youth (in its nineties phase) will perform a couple of shows. Here is a new live video of probably my favorite track off their recent album (I get flashbacks of St. Johnny’s “Givin’ up” hearing this):
Then there is Waaves, who I first saw last year in Miami Beach when they opened for Phoenix (Phoenix pack arena-sized show into Fillmore theater). It will be great seeing them again on stage. The Antlers were another nice surprise to see in the line-up. That band is also a recently formed group of young musicians that began with bedroom recordings, influenced by nineties-era lo-fi noise pop by the likes of the Flaming Lips and My Bloody Valentine.
There will be many an interesting show for an indie rock lover on this “boat,” and that’s plenty to make up for my ambivalence towards Weezer. But despite said ambivalence, I have not given up on them just yet. All this renewed interest in Pinkerton of late has inspired me to finally invest in listening to that 1996 album seeing as the band is focused on reviving that album nowadays and playing it in its entirety during the ship-board shows along with the album’s B-sides. This all seems to weird… on a ship? Well, here is Weezer drummer Pat Wilson with details:
Cabins are still available and start at just over $500 for the 4-night cruise. If you are going, let me know.