Weezer•Spoon•White Reaper•August 27, 2023•The Great Saltair
Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson
On Sunday, August 27th, Los Angeles-based rock band Weezer brought their Indie Rock Road Trip tour to Saltair. With supporting bands, Spoon, and White Reaper, they put on an incredible show for all their fans gathered near the shores of the Great Salt Lake. When Weezer first announced they would be going on tour, I was desperately hoping they would make a stop here in Utah. I felt pretty confident they wouldn’t skip over Weezer-loving Utah after a local fan got their attention with a billboard in 2022.
If you are looking for an unbiased review of the show, this won’t be it. I fell in love with their Blue Album in middle school and have been hooked ever since. I still remember begging my parents to take me to get a CD on the release days for The Green Album, Maladroit, and Make Believe. By the time the Red Album came out, I was old enough to take myself. A few different Weezer songs took their turn as my MySpace profile song. My AOL instant messenger sound was the “Woo-Hoo” from their hit “Buddy Holly.” To this day, they are still my favorite band (second only to The Beatles.) They have since become my kid’s favorite band as well. We even named our pet ball python “Rivers” after Rivers Cuomo.
Not only am I a big fan, but they are actually the reason I got into concert photography. In December of 2021, I went to Arizona to attend a Weezer concert for my birthday. I noticed a photographer covering the show. I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. A few months later I was shooting my first show and was already hoping I would get the chance to photograph Weezer someday. The concert, and my overall experience, was one I will never forget.
First up for the night was White Reaper. The Louisville Kentucky-based punk rock band played a short but exciting set. I especially enjoyed “Might Be Right,” and “Fog Machine.” The sun was beating down on the crowd, but the uncomfortable heat didn’t stop them from enjoying the performance. White Reaper started the show off right and got everyone excited for the remainder of the night. We later learned that the band was robbed at gunpoint just two days earlier. Fans were encouraged to purchase their merch to help them out and show them some love. After hearing about their very recent and traumatic experience, I was even more impressed with how well they did on stage. They are a band I would love to see again.
Up next was Austin Texas Texas-based rock band Spoon. They have been around for about as long as Weezer, and they were an excellent choice for a supporting band. Their style fit very well with Weezer. There seemed to be a large number of fans who were just as excited to see them. They brought a really fun energy to the stage and were well-loved by the crowd.
Lead singer, John Britt Daniel, was especially good at connecting with the fans. I even noticed him greet a few people just moments before heading to the stage. He was also the one to tell the crowd about White Reaper getting robbed at gunpoint and was genuine as he encouraged everyone to help show support. “The Way We Get By,” “Inside Out,” and “The Underdog,” were a few of the favorite songs included in their set. The sun was setting as Spoon wrapped up their performance with “My Babe,” and “Johnathan Fisk.” After Spoon rocked the crowd, everyone was ready for Weezer.
The sun had completely disappeared, and the stage was set and ready for Weezer. A retro-looking car dashboard stretched across the stage, with a digital screen displayed as the car’s windshield. The backdrop set the scene, signifying that Weezer would be taking their fans along for a ride. One by one the band members stepped out in front of the ecstatic crowd. Brian Bell on guitar, Scott Shriner on bass guitar, Patrick Wilson on drums, and lead man Rivers Cuomo wearing his signature horn-rimmed glasses.
Rivers was holding his iconic sticker-covered “Strat with the lighting strap”. Weezer started their set by taking us back to the very beginning with the first song from their first album, “My Name Is Jonas.” The energy from the crowd was incredible as they sang along with the nostalgic song from 1994. The excitement carried throughout the rest of the night. After a few songs, Rivers asked the crowd if he should turn up the volume. Then playfully adjusted the volume knobs on the giant dashboard.
When it comes to releasing new music, Weezer hasn’t slowed down at all. They released 2 studio albums in 2021, and 4 EP’s as part of their SZNZ project (one for each season) in 2022. I wondered if they would include many new songs in their setlist. Their Indie Rock Road Trip theme made it clear that this tour was not to support their most recent projects, and I figured the majority of fans in attendance would be looking forward to hearing their older music.
Weezer did not disappoint with their well-crafted setlist that included many hits such as “Beverly Hills,” “Island In The Sun,” and “Hashpipe.” As I expected, they played multiple songs from their first two albums, Pinkerton, and The Blue Album, which have remained their two most popular albums. The fans loved hearing “El Scorcho,” “Pink Triangle,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” and my personal favorite, “Say It Ain’t So.” Weezer also had a few surprises mixed in with their setlist, including a mini acoustic set that started with Rivers alone on stage performing “High As A Kite,” from his solo album. “Susanne” and the first half of “Only In Dreams,” were also performed acoustic.
It was a fun crowd that showed up for Weezer. There were fans of all ages in attendance. I saw many who were my age, excited for a fun night of nostalgia. Quite a few fans brought their younger kids, who seemed just as pumped as their parents. Seeing all the kids made me wish I was able to bring my own Weezer-loving children with me. While they weren’t able to join me this time, I have promised to take them to a Weezer concert in the future.
I loved hearing the crowd sing along to their favorite songs as they held their hands up in the signature “W” sign. I even saw a couple near me put their hands together to create the “W.” It was cheesy, but I’ll give them a break, they were obviously in love and enjoying the concert. Rivers occasionally held his hands in a “W” back at the crowd. He told the audience “It doesn’t count as a road trip until dad takes a family photo, smile kids!” before posing with the fans in the background for a Polaroid photo.
Later in the evening, Rivers set aside his sticker-covered guitar and sat down at a sticker-covered piano for a couple of songs. As they played “Perfect Situation,” I was reminded of another favorite band of mine, who once performed an excellent cover of the song in concert, it proved to be a crowd-pleaser for both bands. With Rivers still playing the keys, “All My Favorite Songs” was up next.
I was surprised that Weezer’s set didn’t include any cover songs. They love covers so much they created an entire album of them. The previous times I have seen them in concert, they played 2 to 3 each time. I wasn’t disappointed by their absence, they have plenty of originals I wanted to hear. Weezer ended their set with the perfect song, “Thank You And Good Night” from their SZNZ: Summer album before walking off stage. After a few minutes of enthusiastic applause from the crowd, Weezer returned for a 3 song encore beginning with their instrumental song “The Wasteland,” and “Surf Wax America.” The night ended strong with “Buddy Holly,” before the band gathered in the middle to take a bow.
Weezer always puts on an amazing show, and their stop at Saltair was no exception. It was one of those concerts that I wish didn’t have to end, and I enjoyed every second of it. As always, I look forward to seeing what they do next, and can’t wait to see them again.