The Great Weezer Cruise

29 January 2012 | 12:15 pm | Steve Bell

Steve Bell has hit the Americas to sail from Miami to the Coast of Mexico on The Weezer Cruise for a floating festival that boasts Sebodah, J Mascis, Yuck and more.


Some things just have to be done. Weezer haven't been to Australia since 1996 – I saw their Livid show that year, literally the week their bullshit-good sophomore album Pinkerton came out – and their reticence to come back to Australia since then has made this long trek necessary, nay compulsory.

My awesome girlfriend and travelling companion Michelle and I discover early that the most wonderful people at Virgin have upgraded us to business class for the long hike to LA, and it's fairly reasonable to say that that the addition of your own bed and a stand-up bar really do change the complexion of a long-haul flight. Apparently the beds are great, I on the other hand in my infinite wisdom decided to test the veracity of the bar instead for the duration. Some bottles of spirits ran out quicker than others, as you'd expect, but the range on offer was more than adequate so there was rarely a dry glass. Conversations are sketchy by the end of the night (day?), but we're paying them not the other way around so I hardly feel guilty in the slightest… And ignorant fools who iterate that it's bad form to follow a Screwdriver with a White Russian (ad nauseum) are misinformed to say the least…

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You'll be pleased to know that we get our comeuppance on the next leg of the journey, forced to go cattle class from LA to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Miami, but such are the vicissitudes of life. Our plane even gets delayed for an hour-and-a-half for the final leg – not great when you've already been on the road for more than a day, but better than when you have a connecting flight at the end of that leg – and we both display great character by not stabbing anyone in the transit terminal.

Once in Miami we're ferried by taxi (as distinct to taxied by ferry) to our digs for the next few nights, the Claremont at South Beach. It's a cool place, cheap as chips in a posh area, and close to everything you need to be close to. The layout of Miami is so ludicrously close to that of the city in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that someone should seriously sue someone else, making you constantly fight the urge to pull folk out of their car and steal the vehicle (even when sober, unlike at home). The art deco district is amazing, such a distinct and vibrant style of architecture that it makes just walking around captivating in the extreme. As a complete addict of police procedurals and the like I suffer a constant internal breakdown as my internal monologue switches from Miami Vice to CSI: Miami to Dexter and back again, but as with my prior Law And Order experiences in other US cities no dead bodies (not even one) are forthcoming. There are a lot of bars in Miami, and from our experience most of them are up to scratch, the current solid status of the Aussie dollar not hurting in the slightest in that regard,

Come Thursday morning and it's time to embark on Weezer cruisedom, so we catch a cab to the physically gorgeous Port Of Miami and join the lines of indie folk stretching to start this incredible voyage. The ship (Carnival Destiny) is a freaking behemoth, and the rigmarole to board is vaguely similar to getting on a plane (just not really). It should be noted at this juncture how random it is having seen footage of the cruise liner running aground in Italy all week, given that I don't think such a thing has happened before and I've never been on a cruise, but I'm confident that statistically this is the best thing that could have happened, because lightning never strikes twice, right? Am I right? Please Jebus…

After finding our cabins – incredibly stately and roomy, ours with a totes sweet balcony (plus a bottle opener on the wall in the bathroom, thank God) – and having our luggage delivered, we begin to explore the layout of the ship. It's ginormous, a dozen floors joined by stairs and lifts, with a myriad of features around every corner: bars, casinos, libraries, gift shops, you name it. Did I say bars? There are bars scattered haphazardly everywhere and it's a cashless economy, you just swipe your personal cruise card and be on your way (even tips are pre-factored in). It's so easy and functional that it becomes clear early that it could be dangerous, especially once you discover the literal army of waiters carrying drinks of all descriptions everywhere trying to foist them on unsuspecting innocents like ourselves wherever you may be happening to be standing, like a veritable and insidious ambush (of awesomeness).

We find the maritime equivalent of communism is alive and well when the obligatory safety drill finds J Mascis sloping down to join us for the charade at our designated muster point (did I mention a host of other cool bands are joining us on this voyage?). I guess if the ship goes down even rock stars want to hit the lifeboats. It's like little Australia on board (does that even make sense?), new friends being made seemingly every other minute as a proliferation of friendly accents waft into our ears. Everyone is ludicrously gregarious and the vibe is phenomenally friendly, and it's hard to work out whether this is due to it being a Weezer cruise or just a cruise (I've been to tons of onshore festivals and never spoken to anywhere near the amount of people that we befriend today). We get our buckets of beer (they liberally encourage such economies of scale) and find a location to see the first Weezer show on the main deck, this one is upstairs in the open and attended by everyone onboard, and they're scheduled to be playing their debut album (aka the Blue Album) in its entirety plus greatest hits from all their other records (except sophomore album Pinkerton, which is being trotted out in its entirety tomorrow).

At this juncture it's probably a good time to call out all the tards who think that Weezer have jumped the shark at some point in the past: you're clearly not capable of staying with the program. Your version of diminishing returns is just a lack of willingness to invest time and effort into the increasingly strange and complex world of this random band, a realm that is rewarding and bemusing in equal doses but never less than fascinating. Frontman and creative oligarchy Rivers Cuomo is a colossal island of complexity (sorry Malky) and as enigmatic as all get out.

Anyhoo, within minutes we've found a vantage point about 15 metres from the stage (the staggered set-up meaning nearly everyone is in a cracking position) and made a new batch of awesome friends from Sydney and Seattle (sweet alliteration) and then, sun still beating down and some sea legs kicking in as the boat has finally started moving towards the seven seas, the crowd go nuts as the five members of Weezer take the stage and burst into Hash Pipe, the three guitars making an awesome yet melodic racket from the get-go, the sound fantastic despite the untoward environment. Have you ever been on one of those summer car rides when everyone is doing the harmonies to Weezer songs the whole way? Of course you have. Well imagine that times a thousand as tiers of their most devoted acolytes sing their lungs out to Perfect Situation, before Rivers loses his guitars and dons a lifejacket for the insanely catchy (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To. By now the whole boat is in conniptions of rapture, Rivers demanding, “Where's my captain's hat?” and then (once he received one from the front row) yelling, “A little decorum for Captain Cuomo!” before smashing through the crowd as he still strains to sing the lyrics to Photograph, the rest of the band basically ignored even as they hold the fort, all eyes on the singer. Bassist Scott Shriner takes lead duties for the awesome Dope Nose as by now Rivers has made his way to the rear of the deck and climbed the massive waterslide, still demanding the lion's share of attention despite not doing much more than playing the complete clown as he makes his way down the attraction's windy course by foot, looking lovingly over his adoring ship of fools.

Rivers rejoins the fray proper onstage for the relatively obscure – but as he points out, entirely appropriate – Blast Off, before the taking an acoustic guitar and really throwing a spanner into the works by launching into Radiohead's Paranoid Android, an affront to those of us here with good taste –I consider making a run for the lifeboat but I still have a bucket of beer (newly refreshed, natch) and I tell myself that it could be worse – it could be Radiohead playing it. Things soon revert to relative normalcy with the much-maligned Beverly Hills – an absolutely brilliant singalong – and then the inevitable (given the circumstances) Island In The Sun (which starts with Rivers solo before the band kick in to bring it to life). The individual members of the band are introduced one-by-one during the early sections of Pork & Beans – each getting the chance to sing a line – and the atmosphere on the huge liner is electric and all-encompassing as they finish off their first set with a raucous finale.

There's quite a hefty break now – an 'intermission' apparently – which gives everyone a chance to replenish supplies, the sun now nearly done and dusk taking over as Weezer reconvene to play their legendary Blue Album from go to whoah – from the opening chords of My Name Is Jonas the crowd goes fucking apeshit and doesn't relent until the relatively sterile closure (for a concert) of Only In Dreams. In between those bookends it's a veritable hit-fest, songs such as Buddy Holly, Undone (The Sweater Song) and the inimitable Say It Ain't So causing spasms of ecstasy in the devoted throng sprawled across the decks. They play the album almost note-perfectly, every song a mass celebration of shared experience and devotion. Someone confides that Kid Rock conducted a similar enterprise on this ship recently and my mind nearly explodes with visions of cashed-up rednecks going off to music of dubious intellectual, societal and cultural value – fuckwits going wild, unlike us slightly inebriated but nonetheless discerning artistic purveyees – and then it's done. Finito. Oh well, until tomorrow then…

We follow a tip from new Seattle friends and go and see young party starters Free Energy playing a smashing set to a small but enamoured crowd in the casino (flashbacks to the Matador At 21 bash in Vegas in late-2010), share an awesome sit-down dining experience with some other new Sydney chums and then finish with an awesome set by the (now normal) classic line-up of Dinosaur Jr in a random theatre that seems like a cross between a collosseum and a strip club, wondering whether so many Marshall stacks have ever been set up on a boat at the same time before. It's doubtful. I'd go into more detail but Dino aren't that exciting for us Aussies – they drop down all the time – and it's late, so I'll just note that they're as loud and as awesome as ever. Then I bolt back to the cabin to drink more beer and write this thrilling instalment (hence sorry for any spelling mistakes) and now we're up to date. One day down, three to go, stay tuned…

Play us out, Rivers.

Play us out, Rivers.


We awake from a great sleep and stagger up to the top deck for a buffet breakfast. All food on the ship is included in the cruise price, even the sumptuous three-course dinners in the posh dining rooms (it's so cool seeing teams of tuxedo-clad waiters serving an army of scruffy indie kids, but the staff are so friendly it's ridiculous). You can eat around the clock and even order room service 24 hours a day without incurring any extra cost, one could get used to this opulence…

Now it's time for our photo with Weezer (also part of the package). We join a long line of people also delegated to be in this photo session at the designated dining room, the four members of Weezer sitting patiently behind a curtain as everyone is filed through and getting their photo taken with their heroes (which are available to download later). The band are dressed in an array of nautical attire and there's minimal interaction apart from quick hellos – we're in and out in seconds – but as Michelle and I pose behind I have my hand on Rivers' shoulder which is pretty awesome in a creepy way. Can't wait to see the photo…

We see an interactive map of the voyage and rush to the starboard side (my nautical upbringing hasn't failed me) and see Cuba bathed in beautiful sunshine, quite a sight. Then it's up to the Lido Deck for Yacht Rock Revue, as the name suggests a daggily costumed and choreographed tribute band to the cruisy music of the '70s and '80s. It's dripping with irony but somehow perfect for the situation, the dulcet sounds of AM staples such as (and I'm not looking up the proper titles, I think you'll get these) Reminiscing, Love Boat Theme, Rich Girl, Power Of Love (Huey Lewis' one, not the other one), Africa, Rosanna, Go Your Own Way etc etc washing over the partying horde all around them. They're dressed appropriately and having a blast and people seem to be loving it, even one of the waiters is busting sweet dance moves as he works the tables, and it's strange but fun to see a whole spa full of people dancing to Footloose. We go up to the very top of the boat for a game of mini-golf on the immaculately kept 9-hole course, although I think that they're very generous with their par designation as I end up with 3 under and a hole-in-one on the final hole takes Michelle to 2 under, even though neither of us are (yet to become) bona fide putting legends.

We miss out on the randomly-selected allocation of tickets to see Rivers reading passages of his new book Pinkerton Diaries, although we pick up a hardback numbered limited-edition copy from the merch station. Instead we go to a lounge and see the other members of Weezer teaming up with fans from the crowd for a pisstake game show – complete with buzzers and podiums displaying electronic scores (which are reset at intervals and points awarded seemingly at random, this not being the most serious quiz show you've ever seen). The compere is hilarious and Brian is great at trivia, while Pat veers between intelligence and hilarity, and the whole thing is a hoot until the end when it's somewhat derailed by the introduction of an extremely pissed fan (they're rotating them through) but even this trainwreck is pretty entertaining.

We then retire to our cabin for a while and sit on our private balcony looking out over the beautiful ocean, I'm reading Rivers' Pinkerton Diaries and as a fan it's an absolutely incredible (albeit somewhat intense) revelation from the get-go. It's his actual diaries from the time of the first couple of albums when the band was taking off and he was racked with existentialism about seemingly every facet of his existence, but there is so much fascinating insight on each page for the hardcore fan. After 16 years of existence all of Pinkerton (and even some of the Blue Album) is suddenly put in context – Rivers is indeed having emotional dilemmas (anyone who's heard the album even once is now saying, 'Yeah, duh!') but these songs aren't literal readings that I'd always naively assumed them to be at all, it's all part of the rock opera he was writing and everything is from the perspective of his fictional construct Jonas (he of My Name Is Jonas fame from the debut). So far so Hold Steady, this really changes the whole game. Jonas is the singer of a band in the original script (which are all included in the book) so there's clear allegories to Rivers' life experience, which is probably why he changed in into a space scenario (with the same characters) for what eventually became the Songs From The Black Hole version that most diehards are aware of. His neuroses are adorable, and I even find out that Weezer was his childhood nickname (I did not know that). A geek leading the geeks…

Michelle spies J Mascis wandering around wearing a Tym Guitars t-shirt, great to hear of a Brisbane touchstone even on the seven seas.

We got for some drinks and I'm amazed (pleasantly) at how the bar staff's free-pouring techniques are out of control, a double screwdriver in a tall glass containing approximately a quarter of a bottle of vodka. The ship is full of insane characters having the times of their lives, people in Weezer capes and the like and other louches in the ship bathrobes abounding.

At 5.30pm we head back up to the outside Lido Deck to see the melodic slacker garage stylings of Wavves, playing their catchy tunes for a few hundred enamoured punters. The four-piece are sloppy but compulsive, and I'm struck by how diametrically opposite these surroundings are to the last time I saw them play in the pastorally beautiful surrounds at Golden Plains. They chop through Take On The World and a cool cover of Misfits' Hybrid Moments, Nathan hiding behind his fringe as he belts out In The Sand. There's great crowd interaction as the band seem in an extremely jovial mood, dedicating Bug to Dinosaur Jr (it sounds great, even with a massive miss-start) before moving on to a ripping Super Soaker. Nathan rubs his eyes and coughs, saying “I feel like shit” before mentioning mescaline, one of his friends being thrown in the brig and the guitarist from Sleeper Agent having his bar service cut off (this could well be the same incident though), then bursting into joyous rendition of Post Acid. Beach Demons and So Bored are next, before they finish with the frenetic and super-catchy Green Eyes.

Straight away it's off to the flash Criterion Lounge a few decks down to see a solo set by Lou Barlow, wondering what the man who usually epitomises melancholy will offer in this environment. The room itself is like a cabaret lounge with marble tables and dim lights, a strange place to see Lou play solo (the last of many times I've seen him in this mode was sitting cross-legged on the floor at the aforementioned Tym Guitars), and even though his introspective delvings are not really suited to a fun cruise per se you could hear a pin drop in the massive room, and every nuance of his voice and acoustic guitar is audible as he plays Sebadoh's early Think (Let Tomorrow Be), a rendition almost note-for-note the same as the version on the awesome Live At Waterfront album that Spunk records put out near the start of their wonderful career, Lou announcing that the sister of the girl that he wrote the song for is actually on the cruise. He moves onto the relatively debaucherous Imagined Life, then the first song that he ever wrote (as he's so fond of explaining) Punch In The Nose. Next up is Home and his subtly hilarious cover of Foreigner's Cold As Ice, and you've never seen someone so at home pouring his feelings out, even emoting incredibly during a song that he didn't even write. His side-project Sentridoh's Legendary is trotted out, and then he covers Smog's A Hit and segues it into his own real-life hit Natural One by another of his outfits (there's been a few) Folk Implosion, the irony of the juxtaposition incredible (look it all up). He does a great anecdotal introduction about parenthood before finishing a top set with Ballad Of Daykitty, too much fun.

We have another fantastic dinner with our new Sydney friends Jason and Katherine – great people and perfect company – before running off to catch a little bit of Ozma on the outside deck, the five-piece making a lot of racket with their power chords before a small but exuberant crowd. But soon it's time for the main event in the form of the second Weezer show, this time in the more intimate Palladium Lounge (the first of two such performances – everybody has been allocated tickets to one show or the other). Tonight is purportedly offering a selection of b-sides and rarities before they play classic sophomore album Pinkerton in its entirety, but once we're shown to our amazing seats (about eight rows back, ground floor middle) and watch Rivers play his beloved hacky-sack onstage for a while, this is thrown (wonderfully) out the window as they burst into the awesome Troublemaker from the Red Album, one of my fave songs and an unexpected delight. As with last night tonight they play the first half of the set as a five-piece, Pat moving from drums to guitar and Josh (recent addition) taking his place behind the kit, freeing Rivers to immediately jump into the crowd and clamber among the rows of delighted fans, living up the carefree credo of the song. The super-irony of We Are All On Drugs precedes the super-rare I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams, and by now we've hit rough waters (plus I think the liner speeds up at night), so the boat is listing and the massive speakers suspended above the stage are swinging quite alarmingly (a situation not helped by everyone having been drinking in the sun all day). They strangely play No One Else again (although I think this was an acoustic b-side at one point) and then Rivers hits the crowd once more for an alarming but enjoyable cover of Wheatus' “classic” Teenage Dirtbag, which is followed by an acoustic take on the again maligned I Can't Stop Partying (which sounds much, much better without the autotune and assistance from Lil Wayne). Brian sings the intro to Keep Fishin' and the place erupts, before the pathos is loaded on with their first airing of Mykel And Carli in 15 years (apparently), the song a paean to an early pair of Weezer devotees who passed away after crashing their car in a snowstorm after a gig many moons ago. They play a ripping electric version of Jamie – another of my faves – before finishing the first half of the set with the an obscurity which I'm pretty sure was Tragic Girl, but I wouldn't put my house on it.

Then there's an intermission again during which we're shown a slew of photos from the Weezer archives on the big screen – good fun – before the curtain is drawn to reveal a massive backdrop of the scene from the cover of Pinkerton and the four-piece version of the band return and smash into Tired Of Sex, which as mentioned earlier now has new significance to these ears. The sound is full and the versions of the songs faithful to the album, and the place goes crazy. Rivers is sans glasses and wearing a short-sleeved white shirt now, and the songs which seem to have gained the most traction over the years with their followers are clearly Why Bother and El Scorcho (unsurprisingly). They revert to the five-piece incarnation for penultimate track Falling For You, before Rivers dons the acoustic for aching album closer Butterfly, accompanied by a simple drumbeat, after which the lights go up and the band return to the stage to take a bow before their adoring fans, and we shuffle out of the venue to the strains of Memories (Way We Were) or whatever that sappy song is named. Amazing. What a day, what an experience, all of the travel and outlay is so far paying off in spades, and we're only halfway through…

Look what Marco Polo (real name) found.

Look what Marco Polo (real name) found!


We awake in our cabin bright and early and draw the curtains to find the most gorgeous sunrise spreading out over the beautiful island of Cozumel off the coast of Mexico, as the Carnival Destiny draws slowly into the port and docks next to a host of other cruise ships. Today is a day for disembarking and setting off on one of the many off-boat adventures on offer as part of the festivities, and we exit down the gangplank to be greeted by a motley selection of pirates and buccaneers scavenging to have their photos taken with the passengers (I'm not sure whether this is a busking-esque 'pay now' situation or whether those who deign to participate are expected to buy the photo later, but we weave through the throng with no intention of finding out…

Soon we're lined up like school kids in double rows at the end of the pier and led towards another smaller passenger boat which is ferrying us to the mainland, about 20 km away. I catch up with genial gentleman giant Dan who I met numerous times when he was tour managing Pavement a couple of years back, who's now on board TMing Dinosaur Jr, and we swap stories and reminisce (he's a champion bloke).
We land at Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula, and the water is so beautifully clear that I momentarily feel sad that I passed up the opportunity to do some diving while here (I've dived for many years all around the world, but never in the scuba mecca of Mexico) but that passes quickly when I remember the particular adventure awaiting us intrepid explorers – a visit to the ancient Mayan ruins at Tulum, about an hour's bus ride away. Brian from Weezer has also decided to take this trip, obviously a man of great culture like ourselves.

On the way to the site we are given a great overview of the ancient city's history and significance by our local tour guide Marco Polo – he assures us that is his real birth name, and it certainly lends an air of adventure to proceedings – who is funny and informative in equal doses, even when trying to justify the inevitable stop off at the gift shops prior to making the actual ruins.

Once we're at our destination and leave the sanctity of the bus we walk about a kilometre to the site, avoiding more photo traps – the guys dressed up as warriors and priests from the Mayan upper class are in full regalia and look so scary that I'd be reluctant to get too close to them even if inclined to do the tourist thing, although the massive iguanas and monkeys are fun to check out. Once we arrive at the actual site we're ushered through the narrow walkway entry carved centuries ago in the protective stone wall – Tulum was a city fort, perched atop cliffs and surrounded by a massive wall giving it complete protection from all-comers (until those pesky Spaniards arrived at any rate) – and emerge into one of the most beautiful vistas imaginable, a veritable slew of temples and ancient ruins in a massive grassy park, surrounded by palm trees and overlooking the most gorgeous beach. We are given more fascinating history lessons as we wander slack-jawed through the gorgeous archaeological marvel, and one of the quandaries that Marco tells us about is how they can't ascertain why the whole race moved there from Central America, where the land was more fertile and more conducive to agriculture and basic survival – obviously the scientists investigating this 'mystery' aren't too much into chilling out and/or having fun, because the beaches are crazy good and the bodysurfing break is perfect, as if you wouldn't set up shop here if you had the option!

More pertinently, I get to the bottom of this whole Mayan prophecy malarkey, you know the one where people believe that the world is going to end on December 21 this year because that's when the incredibly advanced for its time Mayan calendar stops? The good news is that the people around here are very knowledgeable about these matters and they don't seem overly phased, no one's acting like they have 11 months to live and seeling their houses to party or whoring away their savings, or even doing anything remotely end-of-the-world-y. If anything they seem delighted at the extra attention, salivating overt the inevitable increase in tourism and revenue-generating opportunities that this perceived Armageddon is sure to unleash. Anyway, the dummy's version of the story (ie relayed by a dummy) is that the Mayans were pretty damn spesh at astronomy and were the first race to suss out the 365 day year (and leap year) so they extrapolated their entire magical calendar forward so that they had data on hand about all of the future cycles and timings of all manner of seasonal variations and astronomic events and alignments that they'd somehow clued onto. As you could imagine this painstaking process of predicting future happenings had to end somewhere – they couldn't just keep going ad infinitum – so basically December 21, 2012 was the winter solstice where they decided to pull the pin because it was far enough down the track that it was hard for them to imagine anyone calling them for being lazy. So there was no actual prophecy about the world ending this year, it was just that they couldn't be fucked keeping on keeping on their previous great work – let's face it, no-one they knew was going to be around now all these centuries later, so I say fair call.

On a sidenote I think we got a pretty bum deal about the Spanish wiping out this amazing race (is that term copyrighted?) and actively destroying their culture in their quest to find the rumoured but sadly non-existent gold and the mythical El Dorado – what exactly has Spain done for us recently? Two-fifths of fuck all basically…

I get to fulfil my lifelong dream (since this morning) of bodysurfing in front of beautiful ancient ruins on a gorgeous sunny day in Mexico, but sadly all too quickly it's time to head back. Not before we get to try real Mexican fajitas and the world's strongest margaritas at the shops near the buses, another lifelong ambition filled. We head back to the port and catch the boat back to Cozumel where we have a few hours to kill, luckily they dump us at another tourist trap full of duty free shops and bars full of drunk denizens from other cruise liners, and a desultory look at these mobs makes me wonder if this trip would be significantly less amazing if it weren't for the bevy of brilliant bands and thousands of like-minded travellers on our boat. In one beachside bar I'm bemused to find a massive gaggle of drunken fools with balloon hats on their head pole-dancing and singing and going crazy en masse to some insidious song which seems to be called I'm In Miami, Bitch! (that's the song's gist at any rate) and I slowly die a little inside just being witness to this abomination.

Fortunately this pain is quickly dulled as I re-baoard the Destiny and am immediately sonically smashed by the sound of Dinosaur Jr teeing off on the upstairs deck, and I'm drawn to their awesome racket like a tractor beam of bliss. The set is different to the other night, they're smashing out later-era classics like Feel The Pain alongside the early staples like Freak Scene, a few of which I don't think I've seen Lou play since rejoining the band after the famous schism (although I may well have, I've seen them so many times over the years it all gets a bit hard to keep track of). They reel off a totally epic version of Mountain Man which descends into a massive instrumental maelstrom, literally so loud that it's not drowned out my the massive ship horn which bellows a few times to signal that we're heading back out into the seven seas. Brilliant stuff…

Darkness has descended by now and I wander into the Criterion Lounge to catch Sleeper Agent, a young female-fronted six-piece from Kentucky who dish out a set of really cool upbeat rock'n'roll, and who seem to have a few fans on the boat judging by the turnout and response they receive for the bulk of their songs. The front-girl is really charismatic and throws some great vocal melodies, but I don't know much about the band except that the singer is terrified of balloons and the guitarist hates popsicles and was thrown in the ship's brig (which somehow adds to their allure), but I enjoy it enough to grab a copy of their album later on. That still doesn't stop me leaving when they announce that they're doing a cover of some song by The xx, each to their own…

I catch the very end of the set by The Nervous Wreckords – they're supposed to be playing longer but they must be a new-ish band because apparently they don't have enough material to flesh things out for an hour – and they seem cool enough in a BRMC-y kind of way, but I don't really catch enough so I'll reserve judgement for now (wow, that sounds pretentious but I'm not changing it, if you think less of me because of that sentence then you're a hypocrite anyway).

We head to see Keepaway in the casino lounge, a keys-driven trio that are a bit '80s-revivaly but not immediately arresting in this environment, although tonight is the '80s Prom Night party and there's a lot of taffeta, pastel suits, semi-perms and mullet wigs starting to infiltrate the crowd so they're very topical in that regard at least.

Weezer are doing the second night of their intimate Pinkerton show tonight – we speak to attendees later and find out that the first half of the set is completely different to last night, tonight's batch including Susanne and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (which Rivers admits the next day during the Q&A is his favourite song to play live) much to my chagrin – but we're having so much fun that it's hard to get too bitter about missing out on anything. As a result there's a pretty sparse crowd watching The Antlers on the main deck upstairs – they're struggling against quite a stiff breeze, and are a bit earnest and overwrought for my liking, compared to most of the other acts on the boat anyway. There's some Jeff Buckley-esque vocal histrionics on display which seem to delight some people and sound fine enough, it's just not my cup of tea. French Exit is a bit more upbeat and works well but we're not really connecting, so we just hang out and have a couple of beers and remind ourselves that worse things happen at sea (I can't believe that I've gotten to day three without using that shocker). We grab a bucket of beer (oh sweet, sweet ice buckets) and chill out back in the cabin watching Weezer's very own TV channel which is running continuously on a channel throughout the cruise and which shows some kick-ass rare footage (although truth be told it seems so exhaustive that some of the audio and video quality is pretty nasty). It's still great fun to watch and a great way to pretend that they're not playing right now on this very boat and we can't watch them, goddamit…

At midnight we head up to the deck once more for a second helping of Wavves, snaring a vantage point in the gangway right in front of the stage in order to get blasted from incredibly close range. They smash through basically the same set as yesterday, although it seems a bit tighter – even if I'm not sure that that's necessarily relevant for this band – and it's a fitting end to a diverse and fun-filled day of adventure and music. One to go!

'This is your captain speaking'

'This is you captain speaking...'


The fourth and final instalment begins laced with a hint of sadness, as the dawning realisation that this will be our last day as part of the extended Weezer shipboard family gradually envelops all and sundry, but that's not enough to stop us getting straight back into the swing of things. This is the first chance we've had to catch UK indie outfit Yuck on the trip, and we head up to the top deck to see them strut their stuff in front of a decent – albeit very groggy looking – group of fans. It's once again a gorgeous sunny day, although it's a bit windy as we're under sail, but the four-piece get stuck into the task at hand and sound fantastic. I enjoyed their self-titled debut from last year immensely but this is the first chance I've had to see them play live, and as with their album it's the heady mix of power and melody that they emit that really grabs you by the short and curlies. As they run through Holing Out and the mellow grooves of Shook Down it occurs to me that onstage you get a different sense of the band to that which you get from their studio incarnation – they don't seem as in thrall to the common US touchstones that are bandied around like Dino Jr and Sonic Youth, and they're also tapping into the cool UK indie sound that was owned by the likes of Future Kings Of Spain and Seafood a few years back. Whatever, it sounds great. I've never truly grasped the sentiment behind the lyrics to Suicide Policeman but it sounds great, while the undulating Milkshake, the ludicrously memorable Get Away and the hook-laden The Wall are also standouts. The band have a great persona – really laidback and personable – and it really adds to their charm; by the time the brilliant guitar lines of Operation give way to the slow build of set closer Rubber I'm well and truly hooked – make sure you see these guys at Laneway (or anywhere else) if you get the chance, they really do have the goods.

After some food and beverage breaks we reconvene on the deck for the group photo – everyone on the ship posing for a portrait (which can of course be purchased before departure). I saw a blow up of the same shot from the KISS cruise a while back, and let it be said that I'm not sad to be on this voyage instead, that one looked truly frightening on so many levels. Once that's been done the four members of Weezer enter the fray and take their seats on stage for the Q&A session, and a steady line of punters are ushered onto stage with them one-by-one to read out the questions that they'd pre-submitted earlier (everyone had the chance to pose a question to the band, and these were vetted and the most appropriate ones selected for public consumption). It's a fair enough procedure in the circumstances but it means that some of the queries are a little safe, but it's a great time and the personalities of the band members really get a chance to shine through: Rivers is friendly but reserved and hides behind a big pair of sunnies and clutches a soccer ball (which he later kicks around on the basketball court with delighted fans), while Pat is the gregarious goofball, Scott the nice chilled out guy and Brian charmingly aloof. It's hilarious and many laughs are had, and the main motif which keeps coming up is how much they appreciate their fans and how much they've loved the cruise – this sentiment is blindingly sincere (Rivers even commandeered the ship loudspeaker at one stage earlier today to express his gratitude and intimate that they might even do it again one day) and echoed back at them in spades. Among the loads of trivial titbits which we're privy to are facts such as:
• One of Pat's dogs is called Peaches Von Strudel
• Rivers has a picture of Courtney Love on the back of one guitar and Yoko Ono on the back of the other
• Rivers tried to go scuba diving as his Cozumel excursion yesterday but had a cough so they wouldn't let him, and he had to settle for snorkelling
• Rivers fave ever gig was a secret Jane's Addiction gig in the mountains near LA
• These days Scott mainly listens to doom metal, Rivers checks out people's demos and Brian favours Beethoven
• Scott moved to LA after seeing a Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone gig in Ohio and finding out that's where they're from
• The artist which most inspired Rivers to form a band when he was young was KISS (unsurprisingly), Scott's was Elton John, Pat's Van Halen and Brian's The Beatles.
Heaps more fun gossip and insight (plus some strange and inane info) was ascertained in this manner, and then we all posed for another staged photo, this time with the band visible on the stage. They look great and I later buy a poster-sized one, straight to the pool room…

I was hoping that one of the many Aussies would have the chance to read out their question, because everyone I'd spoken to had submitted derivations of the same theme: “Why the fuck haven't you been to Australia in so long and when are you rectifying this?” but no-one got the chance (maybe they didn't want to offend anyone with the truth?), so while the band are still onstage and as the applause dies down I take the chance to bellow from close range “COME TO AUSTRALIA!”. Brian turns around immediately and gives the thumbs up and Pat and Scott laugh (I hear anecdotally later that Pat has been ruing the fact that they haven't toured down our way for an eternity) but Rivers pretends that he hasn't heard my plea, it seems he really is against long haul flights as I've been told. Sigh…

As we head to the casino to see Wavves for the third day running it dawns on me how we've been so complacent about hearing bands like Built To Spill, Pavement and Modest Mouse being piped through the ship's sound system in restaurants and hallways all the time – if there was a bar that played this sort of music at home I would seriously live there. Wavves are great once more and I finally catch the entirety of King Of The Beach (they've opened with this the previous days so I'd only heard it wafting through the boat as I made my way to see them) which makes me stoked, you know a band are great (for your own taste anyway) when you see them three days running and still enjoy it.

After dinner we catch another partial set from Free Energy – they're not quite as captivating this time around, perhaps due to a mild malaise of tiredness and a lack of the adrenalin which we were surfing last time due to having just started this amazing adventure – they seem to be better when the party is just starting, not winding down. There's still an air of rampant celebration and people are making new friends left, right and centre – everyone is still crazily open and forthcoming – and one particular song (which I later discover is also called Free Energy, I love that when bands have a song which is also their name) with the refrain “We are young and still alive!” must have been some sort of radio hit in the States because the crowd goes nuts, jumping around and singing the words with gusto.

Then we rectify my only minor dissatisfaction with the cruise to date – I'm yet to catch one of my fave bands Sebadoh – so Michelle, Jason, Katherine and I head to the Palladium Lounge and watch one of the best gigs of the whole trip, hands down. There's a sparse crowd at the outset (the venue is quite cavernous) and a very jovial vibe emanating from the band, unlike the usual Sebadoh shtick, Lou explaining that he is hell hungover so took a Xanax and is now feeling totes chilled, this manifesting immediately in the smooth rendition of Too Pure which they kick things off with. Lou handles guitar and vocals for the opening stanza (he and bassist Jason Lowenstein swap roles regularly in this regard) and next we get beautifully mellow versions of On Fire and Skull, little of the usual angst on display at all. Things pick up a bit for Rebound and the bouncy Ocean, before we're treated to a killer version of Magnet's Coil which really gets the burgeoning crowd fired up. Jason and Lou swap roles and things (as always) pick up about a dozen notches, the mood getting more frenzied as JL belts out the yelped refrains to songs such as Mind Reader, Got It, Love To Fight and Drag Down. They swap back to their initial roles and as Lou straps on the guitar he opens up about how having Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr playing together on the same bill has long been one of his fantasies, and how stoked he is that it's finally happened and that we are here to share it with him – it's not only touching but quite a footnote in indie rock history for those with an interest in that particular saga. Of course that leads him to play The Freed Pig – the hate song (one of a handful really) that he penned towards J Mascis when kicked out of Dino all those years back – but it's all in fun, and he follows that with a smashing License To Confuse before Jason pumps out Sister, the whole place by now in a frenzy of smiles and adulation. The band are happily chatting away about tunings and ignoring the occasional technical snafus, and it should be noted what an amazing job drummer Bob D'Amico is doing this whole time, holding things down nonchalantly – he's a great drummer and looks totally at home rocking out at the back and letting the others take the spotlight. Before Careful Lou smiles, “It's kind of a fucked up show – it's the last night! We're known for these fuck ups anyway, it's what people expect from this band!” and the amazing gig continues with Soul And Fire, Not A Friend and one which I've never heard before, which may even be new (but possibly not). The styles of Lou and Jason seem so diametrically opposed but they complement each other incredibly and never more than tonight – I've seen all of their Aussie tours going right back to the Bakesale run all those moons ago and this is my fave show I've seen of theirs by a street. They run well over time but no one cares in the slightest, finishing with a run of gold with Sixteen, Can't Give Up, New Worship and the wondrous and uplifting Brand New Love – by now the boat is rocking as hard as the band, and with the suspended speakers and curtains swaying furiously it looks for all the world like Sebadoh are making the earth move, a spellbinding performance. Wow.

We head back to the casino for one last bash, a second helping of Sleeper Agent, but unfortunately the mix is a bit shit – all guitars and hardly any vocals – which really detracts from their appeal, but this doesn't stop them having a crack and the by now smashed crowd in front of them from responding uproariously. I still like this band though, and it's fun to watch their set descend into chaos – at times you can't tell where the low stage ends and the crowd starts – and it's somehow a fitting finish to the musical festivities of this bizarre and brilliant maritime musical adventure.

Overall things couldn't have been better for all involved in the Weezer cruise. Seriously. The bands were great, the organisers (Sixthman) a delight, the cruise company did their utmost to make everything run as smoothly as possible and ensure that the fans have as much fun as inhumanly possible, and the crowd were possibly the best I've ever been privileged to be a part of. It's an experience that will forever be ingrained in my memory, and I guess I especially feel a lot of love for Weezer for making it happen and for just being so freaking awesome. Now get down to Australia guys, it really is time.

Thanks for reading this ludicrous rant, now it's time for…. AMERICAN ROAD TRIP! The deep and dirty south here we come, see y'all back Down Under in a couple of weeks!