Rock bands love doing ironic pop covers. Performing someone else's sugary chart hit is a straight shot to a buzzy on-stage moment of pure bliss that your average dirty-haired, unwashed-jeans-adorning rocker can use to break free from following the "Master of Cool" handbook. Face it, cutting loose for a little covers-levity mid set is fun, and no one does it better than Weezer.
After hitting the stage in Snuggies, and churning out a host of their own hits ("Beverly Hills," "Hash Pipe") at Los Angeles radio station KROQ's annual Weenie Roast concert on Saturday, spectacled singer Rivers Cuomo and his outfit dug deep. Upping the covers ante, the five-piece ditched their rocker set up for synthesizers (Kraftwerk style) and what turned out to be a mega-mix of covers.
Up first? Their faithful version of MGMT's "Kids," (a song whose melody surely was written by Snorks). And then came a transition. He may have ditched his leopard print Snuggie earlier in the set, but a red-trousers-wearing Rivers channeled his inner Lady GaGa to perform "Poker Face" geek chic style — you couldn't help but scream with glee.
Not everyone at KROQ's annual start-of-the-summer music festival had a cover to share, but almost everyone on the bill whipped up a few tricks from out of their Snuggie-free sleeves.
For Cage The Elephant, a new-ish five-piece indie-soul rock outfit from Kentucky (by way of London), their trick came in the form of front man Matt Shultz, who leapt from the stage mid-song. Dragging his yellow extended mic-cord up the orchestra bleachers, he spat out his lyrics atop guitarist Lincoln Parish's bluesy six-string and gave several dozen fans with digital cameras an extra special treat – playing the band's hit single, the White Stripes-esque "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked," close enough that the fans could smell his breath.
Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in a one-sleeved leotard dress, hot pink fishnets and a disco scarf, was just as entrancing, singing what she noted was "a love song" — "MAPS" — and another song about far less adoration – their latest hit, "Zero." Not to be outdone by other acts, the YYYs added to the festival merriment with explosions of Y-shaped confetti.
For the Kings of Leon though, there were no tricks or gimmicks, just straightforward Grammy-nominated Southern-blessed rock 'n' roll. Hitting the stage after dark, the Followhill brothers – Caleb, Nathan and Jared, along with their cousin, guitarist Matthew – performed their delicious devils' music to a swooning crowd that included folks as diverse as "The Hills" 'star' Audrina Patridge and celebrity braniac, Dr. Drew.
"Use Somebody" brought shivers to those watching them – including their fellow rockers on the line up, who flocked to the stage wings, eager for tips on how to go from being pretty boy rockers to glorified indie gods.
Great bands, hit songs, covers and antics only means one thing; the summer festival season has officially begun!
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