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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Rivers Cuomo on guitar during Weezer's 2023 concert at Breese Stevens Field.

Revving up the engine: Weezer’s Indie Rock Road Trip

When legends play Breese Stevens Field, fans flock to the small park directly next door to the stadium to enjoy a night of music, good vibes and companionship. 

That park filled with more than 50 indie rock fans who gathered to overhear alt rock titans Weezer and Modest Mouse on June 14. An additional 9,000 fans packed Breese Stevens Field itself, selling out the stadium. 

The ‘90s rock legends are in the midst of their “Indie Rock Road Trip,” a summer tour spanning more than 30 cities. 

I arrived at Breese at 5:30 p.m., where a long line of all ages snaked into the sold-out stadium. Fans filled the bleachers and milled around the large grassy stadium, settling in on the grass and chatting with friends before openers took the stage.


The audience at Weezer's 2023 concert at Breese Stevens Field.

The night began with Momma, a Los Angeles indie rock band with the perfect ‘90s sound to open for Weezer and Modest Mouse. 

Momma recently put out their third album, “Household Name.” The California duo captivated the audience with their vocal range and unique sound. They stood in front of a giant “W,” which was the backdrop for the night, and later joined Weezer on stage for a rendition of Weezer’s hit “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams.”

When Momma finished up, fans took the short break to stretch their legs, buy merchandise and get drinks before Modest Mouse took the stage. 

Madison consistently shows its love for Modest Mouse. The band has sold out the Sylvee twice, most recently in December 2022. I found myself next to a pack of diehard 30-year-old Modest Mouse fans — they sang along to every word and had a great night. I overheard them discussing how happily surprised they were to hear “Float On,” a fan favorite that Modest Mouse often excludes from their setlist. 

Rivers Cuomo kicked off Weezer’s show with a cover of Toto’s “Africa,” which garnered thunderous applause and shouts of joy from the audience. 

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Cuomo was his average nerdy self — he donned a Madison t-shirt with a bicycle on it and a green flannel along with his typical glasses. 


Rivers Cuomo during Weezer's 2023 concert at Breese Stevens Field.

Cuomo told the audience he’s released 764 songs since 1994. The night’s setlist included songs from a variety of albums — early classics “Undone” and “Pink Triangle” were joined by newer hits like “California Kids” and “Pork and Beans.” 

Cuomo spoke to fans between songs. The band played “O Girlfriend” in the middle of their set, prefacing the song by disclosing to fans that it’s an anthem about going by an old girlfriend’s house. 

After “O Girlfriend” came “Susanne,” which had fans singing the acoustic version of the slow melody at the top of their lungs.

The Indie Rock Road Trip is the first since Weezer’s latest SZNZ project, which includes an album for each season — “Spring,” “Summer,” “Autumn” and “Winter.” The albums include inspired songs that match the aesthetic and sounds of each season. Two radio singles, “Records” and “A Little Bit of Love,'' were labeled #1 singles on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart.  

For the final song of the night, Weezer invited a fan onto the stage. Evan Marsalli began playing the riff of “Buddy Holly” on TikTok in June 2020, posting a video once a day until Weezer dueted him. 

After 990 days, Rivers Cuomo noticed him. In February, Cuomo duetted Marsalli’s Tik Tok with an invitation to join him on stage. 

“Challenge you to come play this live on Weezer’s Indie Rock Road Trip this summer. My people will reach out to your people,” Cuomo said in the video. 

The top comment on Cuomo’s duet has over 15,000 likes and jokes “the modern day Sisyphus is finally free.” Weezer broadcasted Marsalli’s TikTok before inviting him on stage to play the riff for the first time in real life. 

Marsalli is the drummer for Milwaukee garage rock band Diet Lite, a three person band who met while attending school at UW-Oshkosh.

His persistence paid off — he gained over 16,000 followers and 980,000 likes on Tik Tok since beginning his “Buddy Holly” riff challenge.

Cuomo ended the night with a selfie on stage. 

“It’s not an official road trip unless dad takes a family photo,” he said.

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