"Pinkerton is a record that reaches well beyond a diaristic look at Cuomo's perversions, and instead asks something more universal: Do we really grow out of our teenage feelings, or do we need something like Pinkerton to expose them as merely being repressed to the point where they mutate?"
The core idea of this show is to present Weezer's first ever performance of their Pinkerton album live with a focus on the affect of revealing his emotions to the extent he does on their lead singer and songwriter, Rivers Cuomo. This is with emphasis on its thematic basis in Madama Butterfly, the experiences of the author and the album's expression of the male psyche and of rock stardom as something tortured and hypocritical.
This show is a concert/documentary, showing over the course of one night the drastically changing attitudes of Cuomo to his fame and to this, his most earnest and revealing album. From the utter sincerity and emotion of the live recordings to the bitter cynicism and embarrassment about the album that soon took over as he received critical panning and terrible sales.
The album itself is an autobiographical and introspective expression of the male psyche and the torturous, hypocritical doublethink and self-hatred that can accompany it. Cuomo felt that Pinkerton "is really the clash of East vs West. My hindu, zen, kyokushin, self-denial, self-abnegation, no-emotion, cool-faced side versus my Italian-American heavy metal side." For me personally, it's a clash of ideals versus wants. How we would like to see ourselves and how we would like to present ourselves versus selfish desires and uncontrollable urges, apologising for things without really rectifying them, and trying to reconcile with having these feelings and accept yourself for them, before ultimately returning to a position of self-hatred.
Most of the other things I think are significant about this album are summarised in this passage from John D. Leurssen's River's Edge: The Weezer Story
"Cuomo had gone from singing about homies dissing his girl and the "X-Men" comics in his garage to howling about one-night-stands, having crushes on lesbians and 18-year-old Japanese girls touching themselves. To say he had undergone some changes would be an understatement of mammoth proportions. On Pinkerton, Cuomo's voice is raw and self-doubting; his guitar work is distorted and passive-aggressive. The whole of the album is louder and more abrasive. And horny. In short, the band sounds and plays like a hormonally charged teenager — which is important, because back in 1996, most of Weezer's fans were hormonally charged teenagers."
All of those things sound like they would make an abrasive, macho, sexist, and emotionally devoid album. But those feelings inspire too much self-hatred for that to be the case. There is nothing inherently artistic about these aspects of the maleness - and specifically male adolescence - and in Pinkerton we see an artist torn between wanting to completely erase it from his brain and to completely give in.
September 17th-21st Pearse Centre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2013.