Every story has a beginning. Mine starts with an email from Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr’s Lou Barlow that went something like: “They’ve asked us to be on the Weezer Cruise. Apparently Rivers is a big fan. They asked Dinosaur Jr, too, but I don’t think J’s into it.”
Over the next few months, a dozen+ alt-rock bands get added to the bill, J Mascis miraculously agrees, and soon I’m booking my berth aboard the Bonkers Boat for the inaugural Weezer Cruise.
Setting sail January 19-23 from Miami to Mexico, the theory was that 2500 indie rock fans and 15 bands would hit the high seas, get drunk, listen and play music and generally party. The reality? Yeah, that. So in order to facilitate, I became Julie Cruise Director for Lou and Sebadoh (Sebadoh had three gigs, Lou SEVEN) and kinda “tour” managed the band’s way onto the ship.
I mean, how could I NOT be on the boat? I’m mates/acquaintances with a third of the bands who’d be on board: Dinosaur Jr, London, England’s Yuck, San Diego’s Nervous Wreckords and Brooklyn’s The Antlers, among ‘em. Plus Boom Bip, Wavves, Free Energy, Ozma, The Knocks, Sleeper Agent AND our friend Andy from Wye Oak, who was coming just for fun? Uh, yeah. This was going to be a boat of such indie-rockness, it’d be amazing if it didn’t sink from awesome.
Let’s set sail, shall we?
We begin, the night before, in ghost-town down-town Miami at a cool club called Grand Central, where Sebadoh are playing. There’s a pre-Cruise party upstairs, and we try to go for food but find out from local bands Plains and Jacuzzi Boys that the next best restaurant is too many blocks away (WTF Miami? You are SO weird), so Lou and my cabin-mate Terri and I have to order in sushi from a local joint. It’s dodgy, but none of us puke on stage or off. Win?
“We haven’t played together in three months” Lou says from the stage, “so welcome to our rehearsal.” But it doesn’t sound like that all – shhh don’t tell anyone, but the Sebadudes are tiiiight. Afterwards I snap the above pic of the band with promoter Mario, then we all bundle into a mini van. Gods bless him, Dinosaur Jr’s tour manager extraordinaire Dan has come to collect us and take us back to the hotel.
Cruise Day. I run into Max Bloom from Yuck ambling past the hotel pool, but my number-one priority is basically getting Lou & Co on the boat. Once I get ‘em on board, I can relax and begin the long, arduous task of getting drunk. I feel like a sheepdog in the lobby trying to herd everyone, including wives and gear, on the Artist Shuttle. BUT WE MAKE IT TO THE CARNIVAL DESTINY. Reeee-zult.
But our rooms aren’t ready yet! Boo! Lou grumbles about how the rest of Dino didn’t have to come until later and I make a joke about the Lou Barlow Jealousy Vortex – the one where he disappears into a hole of envy at his own other band. But we’re all pretty stoked anyway and hang out on the Lido Deck, babbling varieties of “HOLY CRAP! I’M ON A BOAT!!!”, “WHAT THE FUCK?”, “JESUS, I’M HOT”, “UGH, THIS RUM-BASED DRINK IS TOTALLY TOO SWEET” and “CAN YOU WATCH MY STUFF?”. I am in charge of watching stuff. That’s Lou’s bass, above. I’ve got my eye on you, Lou’s Bass. Don’t make any sudden moves, ‘cos I’m really preoccupied by the fact that I’M ON A BOAT!
Soon it’s time to find our rooms. En route, we run into the rest of the lovelies in Yuck who drop their gear to hug us. I adopt them, and they adopt me. We’re a funny-looking family.
Marvel at the splendour of our “stateroom” and bask in its cheap hotel room feel! We do. We also marvel at the fact that right up until push-off, there was a dude outside PAINTING our window and that during the cruise, someone seems to enjoy banging above or below us at 8am on mornings when we got to bed at 6am. But nevermind. This room will see little action except for towel animals, when I wake up half-naked with my contact lenses in, and when I fall backwards off the bed.
At 4pm sharpish, we’re all supposed to meet at a “Muster Station” – an area we’re assigned to go to in the event of an emergency. Bands, including Weezer, line up next to fans, and we cozy up with Andy from Wye Oak. That’s Andy.
We run into Brian Karscig and his band in the production office . Brian used to be in rad band Louis XIV, and is now the chief of equally rad band Nervous Wreckords. Brian and I go way back to a night in Vancouver when we all got drunk on the tour bus (read about that, here on their blog) and I taught him how to use teh Twitters. He now has a band of good-looking people who make good-sounding rock choons. I’m excited to finally see this incarnation – and I do, twice. That’s Brian on deck in his uniform: black, hat, and beard, as we’re all awaiting…
….WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZER! Holy shit I can’t believe they’re doing “Hash Pipe” first! I can go home now. No wait, I can’t..I’M ON A BOAT!
Would you look at that adorable nerdy guitar solo face? Oh, Rivers. I’m sorry if I ever doubted you and told people I was basically going on the Lou Cruise. Weezer, you’re kind of really good.
This is the new thing. Never mind cam-phones. How about an iPAD in your face, Scott?
Yeah, so Rivers dons a captain’s hat and goes for a walk in the grinning crowd. Did his trousers rip or summat? Check out the little girl’s face behind him. But this is a fun moment. I’m wedged dead centre by the sound tent and Rivers basically straddles his way up the pole while singing the hits. (It was the Hits and Blue show – Pinkerton and rareties would come later.)
And what, pray tell, is Rivers gunning for? THAT. THE GIANT BLUE WATERSLIDE. Which he promptly climbs. (Note the drummer: that’s Josh Freese, who is, basically, the best US rock session drummer everrr. He’s stellar and pinch-hitting so Patrick Wilson can play guitar. Freese is so good that even Murph from Dinosaur Jr tells me he wants to meet him.)
So Rivers gets to the top of the waterslide, the sun is starting to set on his face, and I’m guessing someone asked him if he could touch his tongue to his nose?
And there’s the sunset. Nice! So long, Vice City! See you in a couple of days! Following Weezer’s set, we wander trying to get our bearings, and eat the buffet. And in no time, it’s time for….
…SeBADoh to confuse all the mainstream Weezer fans and delight all the hardcore fanboys with their raucous melodipunk! (Or indie rock, whatever.)
This is officially one of my fave pictures of Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein, aside from this one with his pet pig Emmett. This is also Jason Loewenstein rocking out. He does that. I mean, seriously, have you HEARD the track “Careful” and all the other ones he belts? Gah. LOVE.
Love this pic of Lou, too, even though he’s already complained to me about the double chin. And the crowd’s pretty ace. You gotta hand it to the devotees for showing up to Seb’s first of three shows on t’boat. Is that Max from Yuck watching? And acclaimed music journo Brian J. Bowe (author of books on Judas Priest, the Ramones AND the Clash, writer/editor for Creem and SO MUCH MORE)? And “the Indie Rock Professor” (no, really, she’s an anthropologist who specializes in indie rock) Wendy Fonorow? YUP, all watching. I mean, seriously, when is this much cool going to be on a ship together again?
Oh hai, Bob D’Amico, drummer and Animal (the Muppet) for Sebadoh! I like to describe him as the punk-rock Marlboro Man. He doesn’t smoke, though. He’s too cool.
But soon! It’s time to pry ourselves from the Lido Deck and go find a bucket of beer in the big venue, the Palladium, where there’s comfy seats, waiters and a ploosh front-row vantage point for these guys:
Oh, Antlers. How I love you and your albums Hospice and Burst Apart. Peter’s voice sounds stunning, per usual. I last saw/met The Antlers at Music Fest Northwest in Portland, where me and the gang were imagining what it’d be like on the Cruise, and if Wavves would be the ones who’d be bringing the pot onboard. (Not saying a word, here.)
Darby Antlers is kind of ridiculously handsome (good ‘boardist too, hell, everything about the Antlers is amazing) but…
…drummer Michael Lerner is my buddy. Also handsome. He gives good drum face. Musically? You can’t really fault anything tonight. Because we have a bucket of beer. And Antlers are like 10 feet in front of me.
Shortly after, with only a half-hour in between sets, Mr. Lou Barlow steps offstage on the Lido Deck with Sebadoh and directly onstage at the Palladium with…
….Dinosaur Jr! Not the tightest musically, but I gotta say, this is the most eventful and rocking Dino show I’ve ever been at. Not only is Barlow playing at Warp Factor Bass God (no, really, everyone’s mouths are hanging open and for a guy who’s JUST PLAYED, he’s going INSANE on stage), but J is throwing some minor rock poses AND HIS HAIR GETS IN HIS FACE! That’s when you know he’s really letting loose (see below). Seriously, this was quite awesome. And he’s even chatty! “I’d like to thank Weezer, ‘cos without them I woulda never met the Fonz”, drawls the White Wizard, while Scott and Patrick from Weezer look on.
… But that’s not all! There’s a drunk/stoned couple next to us throwing shapes in the aisles so emphatically they have to be escorted back to their seats five times by the tolerant security guards. Back at their seats, dude puts his hand in his missus’ shirt and pulls her boob out. Fun! Then he falls on his girlf and they both get gently escorted out. At which point, another dude tries to stagedive during “Feel the Pain” into the 2nd row, lands on the back of the (at least padded) bench, and splits open his face. It’s a MONSTER of a show, and actually one of my faves.
But that’s STILL not all! We all pile backstage after, and Lou’s missus, Kath, is screaming: OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODTHEREWASACOUPLEINROWSIXWHOWEREHAVING…….SEX! We think it’s the same couple from before who’d come back, ‘cos apparently he had her bent over the bench, thrusting during “Forget the Swan.” Kath’s traumatized. Note to self: Do not sit in the sixth row for Weezer’s Pinkerton show. Even J smiles at the news about the audience participation/sexytime.
Then a couple of us head out to the Lido Deck for Brian Bell from Weezer’s Midnight Movie. Young Frankenstein? ALL KINDS OF HELL YES. *Applauds* We hang with Murph, walk past J at the back of the boat looking at the wake of the black water whilst hanging with his band friends, Sweetapple, talk about the show for a bit and admire all the folks in lounge chairs under blankets. Nice one. But by this time we’re drunk and hungry (drunkgry?) and LO AND BEHOLD, the “New York Deli” onboard is open until 3am. I get a sandwich and pile my plate high with pickles, then run into…
…THIS GUY. This is the adorbs Daniel from Yuck, who’s hanging around with bandmates Max and Mariko in the restaurant, where they’re availing themselves of the hot drinks. I tease them mercilessly about being English and needing a cuppa tea, but Daniel insists he’s having coffee. They’re deliciously tipsy and Daniel follows us around. “I”m just going to follow you around,” he says as we walk by Mascis (we do a lot of walking past J Mascis over the course of four days), whom he goes to thank for letting Yuck open for Dino on the return show in Miami. I can’t watch. I have this thing where every time a fan or ANYONE approaches J, I have to look away ‘cos I’m afraid we’ll all die of mutual awkwardness.
As we’re walking around, plate in hand, we come up on afro’d Yuck drummer Jonny, and Sleeper Agent’s teen singer Alex Kandel. I offer Jonny some of my pickles, which he takes (he’s from Brooklyn, of course!), and Alex slurs at me to come see her band at some point. Uh….whoops.
Soon, it’s time for bed. We get in the room and are greeted by this guy:
Night night, Towel Creature! For tomorrow is another day and I’M ON A BOAT! \m/
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