80/35 has had big headliners before. Wu-Tang Clan, Cake, Ben Harper, Death Cab; they all drew big crowds. But none of them were Weezer big.
Organizers estimated more than 10,000 fans in the paid area. The crowd was large enough that it was tough to get as close to the stage as 12th Street, which cuts through the festival grounds.
The crowd wanted Weezer. Weezer delivered, pulling out hits early. The show started with "My Name is Jonas" off the band's 1994 self-titled debut, then went into "El Scorcho" off the now revered 1996 album "Pinkerton," followed by "Hash Pipe" off Weezer's second self-titled album, the 2001 release known as "The Green Album."
It was a full out fusion of an arena rock show with a festival rock show, featuring crazy lights, highlighted by Weezer's Van Halen-esque W logo. It was the biggest, loudest thing a band fronted by a guy who looks like a middle school science teacher has ever done. Unless your middle school science teacher actually blew up the school.
"Hola, Des Moines," frontman Rivers Cuomo told the crowd after finishing "Eulogy for a Rock Band" off the 2014 album "Everything Will Be Alright in the End." Rivers wasn't especially talkative Saturday, launching right into "Islands in the Sun."
He did sing a little bit about signing up for a 24-hour B-Cycle pass, riding around Grand Avenue and going to eat at Zombie Burger, segueing into "Beverly Hills."
Next up came "Go Away," a duet originally sung with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino. Bassist Scott Shriner filled in on Cosentino's part.
Weezer's set wasn't especially long, about 75 minutes. That's how long Cake played last year, but Weezer had more songs since Cuomo was nowhere near as talkative as Cake's John McCrea.
"Say It Aint' So," "Tired of Sex," "Perfect Situation" and (If You're Wondering if I Want You To) I Want You To" followed, with the crowd reacting enthusiastically to each song. Then came "Pork and Beans."
Then came the false drum start of "Undone – The Sweater Song" and the crowd lost its collective pork and beans. The band's first hit closed out the main set, with the band briefly leaving the stage.
The band returned to perform "Memories," followed by the show-stopping (and ending) "Buddy Holly." As the song ended, the members of the band all climbed onto drummer Patrick Wilson's stand and started pounding away with their own sticks.
Then, it was over. Thousands of fans filtered out into the night. 80/35 hit a homerun in 2015 after a difficult 2014. Let's hope the momentum continues into 2016.