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Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo in Jakarta on Tuesday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)
“Konser ini akan menyenangkan [This concert is going to be fun],” tweeted Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo the night before the band’s arrival in Jakarta.
He repeated the statement at the conclusion of the band’s press conference on Monday night, and the massive crowd of media — jostling and standing on their chairs — cheered. Everyone was clearly also Weezer fans.
That enthusiasm for the Los Angeles-based band, whose first album was released to acclaim in 1994, continued on Tuesday night at Lapangan D Senayan, and was compounded by the fact that this was Weezer’s first trip to Indonesia in their two-decade career.
Cuomo told The Jakarta Post at a press roundtable, “I’d say Jakarta is the number one place in the world we’ve wanted to get to for some time now. Because of the Internet, because of Facebook and Twitter, we’ve become aware that we have so many fans here and they’re very passionate about our music and they know our music really well.”
That Weezer’s Indonesian fans know their music really well may actually be an understatement.
Billed as a greatest hits tour of sorts, Weezer performed selections from six of their albums and the entirety of their self-titled debut, now known as The Blue Album. From the opening strains of the band’s first song, “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” from 2009’s Raditude, members of the audience sang along to every word of every song, the fervor increasing when Cuomo jumped off the stage during The Red Album’s “Troublemaker”, letting those in the front clutch and cling to his orange windbreaker, and doing a run of high fives. “Across the Sea” and “El Scorcho” from Pinkerton sealed the deal.
For local fans, the many years of waiting had finally paid off. When the band announced their plans late last year to play Jakarta, one devotee posted on Weezer’s website, “Finally after 18 years of waiting!” Another wrote, “STOKED!!! Been waiting for them to come here since fifteen years ago! CAN’T WAIT.”
During an intermission that included a slideshow of old band photos, concertgoer Tony said he had been listening to Weezer since he was in junior high. “My favorite Weezer song is ‘Jamie’,” the 30-year-old Jakarta native said, citing a more obscure B-side with an affecting acoustic version the band did not perform. He added that he rarely goes to concerts. This was an exception.
The band’s guitarist, Brian Bell, told the Post during the roundtable, “I believe we were aware of [Jakarta] too from fan letters way back before the Internet … It actually might have been the first time I’d ever heard of Jakarta was from a letter and I had to ask someone ‘Where is that?’ But I know now.”
While Indonesia’s Weezer supporters were putting pen to paper back in the 1990s, after luring the band to the country through social media, as Cuomo indicated, devotees could now use their own voices to show their love for the band.
At the press conference, one member of the media addressed the band, saying, “It is an honor for me to look at you guys.” A man from Malaysia announced, “Your songs are the soundtrack to our lives.” The next day at the back of the muddy concert venue, one teenage girl yelled, “I love you. I love you River!” As Weezer wound down with the final strains of The Blue Album’s last song, “Only in Dreams”, people shouted “No!” and “We want more!”
But Weezer’s visit to the country meant they could respond. Throughout the concert Cuomo peppered his words with phrases in Indonesian. “Selamat malam [Good evening],” he said in greeting his thousands of fans, and moments later, “Saya Rivers [I’m Rivers].” During “Perfect Situation” from 2005’s Make Believe, there was a “Jakarta, nyanyi! [Jakarta, sing]” and then “sekali lagi, sip, baik [one more time, OK, good].” Even better, during “Island in the Sun” he flirted with a “Saya cinta kalian. Saya cinta kalian [I love you all].”
Besides indicating some polyglot tendencies, a remarkable crash course in Indonesian or a hidden stash of notes, Cuomo demonstrated more knowledge of the country during the classic “Undone (Sweater Song)” introduction, replacing the snippets of conversation with talk of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands and its diversity.
As the band progressed through The Blue Album and its classic after classic, and the 20- and 30-somethings in the audience smiled and sang, memories pitched back and forth of teenage bedrooms and parties and friendships and lost loves. Yet even while witnessing the band playing songs that evoke those memories — and that are also about such experiences — it wasn’t all about reminiscing.
There was something perhaps timeless here amid people in Jakarta enjoying Weezer live in concert for the first time. Marya Budianta, the 18-year-old who had been shouting “I love you,” said after the show, “I started listening to Weezer in 2008. My favorite song is ‘Pork and Beans’. I never really fit in at school and I heard that song about not fitting in and it made me feel better.”
Finding solace in music is certainly timeless, as is the band’s focus on fun. Cuomo said, “I think the key to success at the beginning of your career and at every step along the way is to always look for what seems to be the most exciting thing to do in the moment … Just ask yourself what sounds like a lot of fun right now. That’s what we did at the beginning. That’s what we’re still doing now.”
When asked about Weezer’s future plans, the soccer-loving Cuomo responded, “Hopefully we’ll be in Brazil in 2014.” He later added, “I have a question. How close is Indonesia to getting into the World Cup? Do you think it will happen?”
And while one reporter’s response was 15 or 20 years, Weezer’s local supporters can only hope that won’t be how long it takes, again, for the band to return to Indonesia.