As a Chicagoan, January is generally one of the most miserable times of the year. It’s the month where I understand what Alaskans must go through, living weeks on end without seeing the sun.
This year I said no. This year, I took a stand. Or rather, a swim. This year, I set out on an adventure to make memories across the sea on an island in the sun; the stuff usually found only in dreams. I’m punning, of course, about the Weezer Cruise.
Weezer Talks Cruise, New Record, Schooling Dinosaur Jr.
For the uninitiated, the Weezer Cruise (Jan. 19-23) was a five-day, four-night floating music festival hosted by — you guessed it — Weezer. Organized by Atlanta-based events company Sixthman, the journey from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico and back featured great bands like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Wavves, Ozma, Nervous Wreckords, Sleeper Agent and more.
| Live from the seas: “Hash Pipe”
There are few things that instill more confidence in impending cruise vacation plans than watching non-stop coverage of a recent cruise run aground, but fate’s warnings be damned, my cabinmates and I boarded our “Destiny” in Miami and prepared for the trip of a lifetime. Shortly after we left port, every passenger piled on the Lido deck to watch the Weezer send-off show. Kicking the jams off with “Hash Pipe” (and a surprisingly talented Pat, drummer, on guitar), the =W= kept the hits coming with radio favorites like “Perfect Situation,” “Beverly Hills” and “Pork & Beans.” Highlights included a wandering Rivers Cuomo during “Dope Nose,” climbing atop the completely dry waterslide, directing the crowd with the mic like a maestro conductor. After rounding out the set with an incredible cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and a few more radio hits, the band took a short break before busting out the “Blue Album” in its entirety.
Instantly, I was transported back 18 years to stealing my brother’s cassette tape with the nerdy group of four looking back from the plain blue background. The revelation that I was enjoying the entire “Blue Album,” performed by Weezer, on a boat, leaving Miami, wearing nothing but red diving shorts in the middle of January was almost too much to bear. And this was just the beginning.
Day Two: The Naked Man
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we were almost prevented from entering to take our photo with the band as a result of our attire. Picture three out-of-shape, pasty-skinned white men in coordinated red, white and blue diving shorts that fit too tight and perhaps you can see the staff’s hesitation. Having overcome the prudish Carnival Cruise staff, we made our way through the line (despite multiple requests for pics) and into the photo area. The reactions of each band member were classic, and forever frozen in time thanks to our carefully staged “Naked Photo.” Oh yes, we’d left an impression.
| B-Sides “Mykel & Carli”/”Jamie”
As the night progressed, we found ourselves back on the Lido Deck for Wavves’ first set of the cruise. The California grunge-pop group punctuated their tight and fuzz-filled set with a seemingly ceaseless quest for the mysterious “Willers,” the man responsible for helping (read: carrying) vocalist Nathan Williams back to his room the night before. Apparently, the good samaritan left a note with his name, Twitter handle and a heartfelt expression that Nathan’s cat bears a striking resemblance to his own. Finally, two songs before the end of the set, the elusive Willers emerged, eliciting a diving, climbing and sprinting hug from Nathan as a show of his appreciation. After having our proverbial asses handed to us sonically, it was time to witness our second Weezer show of the cruise.
Similar to the grand send-off, the second show was divided into two sets: B-sides and “Pinkerton.” The energy in the room was palpable as the band played “Mykel and Carli,” the memorial song for two of Weezer’s biggest fans, for the first time live in 15 years. Watching Rivers clamor into the audience, belting out songs that at one point caused so much pain, now bathing in the love of the devoted family that Weezer has built over the past 20 years is something I won’t soon forget.
Day Three: Cozumel, ’80s Night and a Happy New Year
After a nap on the boat that would make Rip Van Winkle blush, we found ourselves in what was either the mid-’80s or the only theme-night for which the cruise participants actually spent time and effort preparing for. As we made our way into the 1980s Prom, we noticed Pat hanging out casually toward the back, sipping on a Lagunitas IPA, which was not being served aboard the ship. “I snuck them on,” he told us with a sheepish grin. Apparently, if you’re the headlining band and the main reason why the cruise exists, you somehow get special privileges. I know. Unfair. Once he learned we were a step above Bud Light-swilling schleps, he gave a whole-hearted endorsement of Pliny the Elder Double IPA. I’m looking forward to taking him up on the recommendation.
My mother always told me that nothing good happens after 2:00 a.m. Erroneous. Unless of course by “nothing good” she actually meant “multiple human pyramids in the middle of a casino floor, countless New Year countdowns followed by the most heartfelt hugs and ‘congratulations’ you could imagine, earning world championship belts, and making friends with high-caliber individuals from all across the world.” Our reward for drinking through the night was to greet a brilliant orange sunrise cresting over the Gulf of Mexico and what must be the most inappropriate breakfast of my adult life. I could not think of a better way to begin our last full day on the boat.
Day 4: Our Multi-national Friends
| “Undone (The Sweater Song)”
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been crammed into a Carnival Cruise Line hot tub with quite literally 30 foreigners while Weezer takes the stage to answer questions from their most devoted fans and a Lido deck packed to capacity. Come to think of it, you probably haven’t. Needless to say, it was a bit of an ordeal what with the crowd surfing, stage diving and spontaneous countdowns to the New Year (hate to burst your bubble, but we’re about three weeks late). Thankfully, our din was successfully quieted by the Q&A session. The panel-style presentation was peppered with the band’s musical tastes (Pat is currently listening exclusively to female singers like “Lana Del Mar,” his words), favorite music video (“you couldn’t not smile on the set of ‘Buddy Holly’,” Brian told the crowd), and the occasional fan hug.
As one might expect, the rest of the evening began to blur together in a haze of Sleeper Agent’s and Free Energy’s Casino shows, all-night dance parties, good decisions, great decisions, bad decisions, worse decisions. When the “true dregs of the late night party scene” as Dayn, Wavves’ delightful tour manager had so eloquently phrased it the night before, became more the norm than the exception, when the glitter and shimmer of the slot machines lost their luster, and watching band members attempt to steal away with an Olsen-twin lookalike without alerting her very-present boyfriend became banal, we hit the hay for the last time on our ship, appropriately named “Destiny.”
So pardon me if I feel that this is such a pity — my best friends and I leaving what seemed a perfect situation, left with nothing more than a photograph or two and some memories. Say it ain’t so, friends, for I don’t want to let you go. (If you’re wondering if I want you to) I want you to be rolling your eyes at this point.
And you probably are. Nothing us Weezer fans haven’t seen before.