In August of 1996, Weezer emerged from a 12-month break brought on by Rivers Cuomo’s decision to enroll as an undergrad at Harvard at the height of the band’s first success. “I was craving mental stimulation for about a year and a half leading up to that point, being on the road,” Cuomo told Rolling Stone in 2010. “I’m in my mid-twenties and the years are going by and most of my peers have already graduated from college. And all I’m doing is driving around in a van or tour bus and playing the same 10 songs every night.”
His time at Harvard was marked by romantic disasters, extreme loneliness and serious pain following a major surgery on his his left leg, which was significantly shorter than his right one. He poured all that agony into the lyrics on Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton, which the group cut during Cuomo’s downtime from school. One month before it hit shelves, they began promoting it with a series of festival dates in Europe. Here is pro-shot video of their set at the Bizarre Festival in Cologne Germany on August 17th, 1996. It has been mixed with audio straight from the soundboard.
Since nobody in the audience had a chance to hear Pinkerton at this point, the vast majority of the set comes from The Blue Album. The only Pinkerton tracks to appear were “Pink Triangle,” “El Scorcho” and “Why Bother?” They all seemed to get a pretty strong reaction, though when the record actually landed the following month it failed to raise higher than Number 19 on the Billboard 200, and soon fell of the charts completely.
(A Rolling Stone critics poll would later infamously name Pinkerton the second worst album of the year, sandwiched between Bush’s Razorblade Suitcase and DJ Spooky’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer. This is frequently referred to as a “readers’ poll,” but the readers that year actually picked Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, The Fugees’ The Score and Pearl Jam’s No Code as the worst records of 1996. We imagine that many readers and critics would like a do-over on some of those picks.)
Weezer stayed on the road for another year promoting Pinkerton, but this did little to drive the album up the charts. The group went on extended hiatus in the fall of 1997, and when they reformed three years later, bassist Matt Sharp had been replaced by Mikey Walsh. Sharp hasn’t played with the band since, and this video is one of the best documents of his time with the band in the Pinkerton era. Fans continue to hope he’ll reunite with Weezer at some point, though chances aren’t super-high at the moment. Last year, asked about Sharp, Cuomo told RS, “I’m not super in touch with him, and that’s something I feel sad about.” Anyone hoping to see Weezer’s mid-Nineties lineup will probably have to wait until at least 2019, when the band will become eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.