February 2, 2012

Do you like this?

Last week I did three things I’ve never done before: take a cruise, go to Mexico and see Weezer live (twice). The first two seem pretty normal, but the latter is rarer in that this particular voyage was the Weezer Cruise 2012. Aboard were not only the “Buddy Holly” guys, but other musical acts such as Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Wavves, Yuck, Free Energy, comedian Doug Benson and a host of up-and-coming acts (all of which were personally chosen by Rivers Cuomo, as he calls the shots for all of those guys).

Thanks to a friend with connections, a group of us were able to cost-effectively join a couple of thousand rabid Weezer fans from around the globe for this four-day rock ‘n’ roll freak-out. And what a trip it was—in more ways than one.

As I mentioned, I’ve never bothered to take a cruise in the past. The mere notion of being confined to a swaying ocean-bound vessel with nothing to do but play shuffleboard, eat buffet cuisine and sleep in the dark hull of a boat wasn’t something that appealed to my pursuit of seeing the world. And the recent cruise tragedy off the coast of Italy didn’t help matters much. However, this journey proved to be much more than expected.

First, we were upgraded at no additional charge to a balcony cabin, for which everyone expressed relief despite the fact that I had no idea what it meant until I came aboard. Our cabins were about the size of a small hotel room with enough space for two people to change clothes at the same time and a balcony about the size of a half bathroom. While the nighttime waves gently rocked us to sleep and the open balcony door provided the luxury of fresh air and white noise, these same currents were tossing our cohorts down in the belly of the ship around like loose sardines in a tin can under water.

Second, being in international waters meant we could gamble in the ship’s casino. Bingo! And the free food was much better than expected, even though the alcohol that typically fuels rock shows was extra—a lot extra. It didn’t take too long to figure out that Foster’s oil cans were the best bargain and that you should always double down on 11 and stay when the dealer is showing a 6 or less.

But best of all, there was live rock ‘n’ roll—and plenty of it. Like a mini music festival, the event’s organizers utilized every club, theater, stage and even the deck as venues for delivering at least two shows at a time for most of the trip. Each of the dozen or so bands played at least twice during the three days at sea, so there were ample opportunities to check out just about all of them.

We saw Weezer play their two best albums—their self-titled 1994 debut, which fans refer to as “The Blue Album” and their 1996 follow-up, “Pinkerton”—in their entirety. We sported earplugs for two shows each by mind-melting Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh. Plus we were treated to great new acts gaining note with the critics such as Yuck, Wavves, The Antlers, Keepaway, Ozma and Free Energy. In keeping with the open-seas theme, we saw the Yacht Rock Revue flawlessly cover just about every smooth classic from the 1970s and ’80s.

Since we were all stuck on the boat together, we were able to do things like stand in the buffet line with J. Mascis, have our pictures made with our favorite musicians, party with the Yacht Rock Revue dudes, play poker with Doug Benson and even play shuffleboard with the drummers from Yuck and Wavves. We even met Brian Ray, Paul McCartney’s guitarist, who was aboard as Weezer’s tour manager.

The cruise ended in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion. When we docked in Miami, my cabin mate and I were literally the last two people to disembark—even after the stars of the show, Weezer, had long gone. After security basically threw us off with barely packed suitcases it was time to come home. Even if it did take a few days to shake the sea legs and hangovers, this cruise truly rocked!

Chuck Crowder is a local writer and general man about town. His opinions are just that. Everything expressed is loosely based on fact and crap he hears people talking about. Take what you read with a grain of salt, but let it pepper your thoughts.


February 2, 2012

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