Historic event: 03/19/1992

From Weezerpedia

first weezer show: Raji's, Hollywood

The very first weezer show took place at Raji's, a club on Hollywood Boulevard, made famous from the cover photo on the "Sliver" 7" by Nirvana. As of the morning of the show, Weezer still didn't have a name, and in fact no one knew there would even be a show that night till about 5 or 6 pm. The guys had been practicing as a band for a little over a month at this point, perhaps 4 times a week, and everyone was itching to do a show. The prior band that Rivers, Pat and Jason had been in, Sixty Wrong Sausages, had a plan to record a great demo first before booking any shows. As it turned out, when they finally got a demo recorded, they ended up only playing one show (see 11/26/91). With the new unnamed band, they wanted to write (or reassign from their prior bands) 50 good songs before they played a show.

As it turned out, they got to about 35 songs in early March and everyone was itching to play. They tried to book a show for about a week straight, begging club owners around Hollywood to add them to their upcoming bills. Of course, they had no demo tape and no following at all, so there really wasn't much in it for the people booking the rock clubs! But Rivers and Matt doggedly pursued it anyway against the odds. They remembered some things from their metal days 2 years earlier, and still had a few contacts from back then too. The guys were ready to face almost any indignity to get some shows...

...Except the terrible practice of "pay to play", a spirit breaking practice that L.A. clubs started in the 80's, where they in effect sold the hair bands a set of tickets in advance, and the band members had to then sell them to people on the street to get their audience. If they didn't sell the tickets, they were in effect "paying to play" the show. No one in the band ever wanted to go through that again, so that was their one big rule. Which of course made booking a show hard - especially on the Sunset Strip, which at the time was still the place to be seen by the record label people and where a new band could possibly still make a splash.

So the guys expanded their horizons a bit, and sought out some of the grimier clubs off the glittery strip. Raji's, on the still quite filthy at the time heart of Hollywood Boulevard, was a perfect place to try. Raji's relaxed booking policy and a bit of anything goes attitude could work in a brand new bands favor, and in weezer's case, it did.

After a flurry of desperate phone calls the afternoon of March 19, the band somehow got offered an opening slot that same night for Keanu Reeves's then-brand-new band, Dogstar. Apparently there was no show booked that night at Raji's at all, and when Dogstar set up the show, there was a sudden need for some opening acts to try and beef up the draw earlier on in the night. When the desperate guy at Raji's said "hmmm...how about tonight?", the band jumped on the opportunity. They only needed to come up with a band name at this point, and a major brainstorming session ensued. In the end, Rivers stuck with his (until that moment unheard by the other band members) "weezer" suggestion, and while nobody but Rivers knew what it meant at the time, they couldn't quite come up with something that sounded more distinctive. One name that got shot down that night was "This Niblet", as well as "The Leafy Green Reefer Machine". Anyway, the band called everyone they knew to come check it out. Karl began his long tradition of driving the band gear to the gig - he was the only guy who had a vehicle big enough to fit all the gear plus a band member or two (it was an '88 Bronco II). The band got 17 people to show up and watch. Not too bad!

Songs that were played for sure during the approx. 30 min. set were....

i cant forget the way
the world has turned and left me here
the biggest animal
M.E. (Gary Numan cover, Pat and Rivers switch instruments: Pat sings)

possibly/likely also played:

Mega Man (also pat singing)

Overall it was a totally chaotic gig. The whole band was utterly spazzing out, ecstatic to be playing out at last. Rivers went into a rock trance and actually fell right off the stage several times during the set in the middle of guitar solos.

The running order was a bit frustrating for weezer, as it was first Annapurna, followed by Dogstar, then weezer who were tacked onto the bill. Most of the hipster crowd was there only to see Keanu, so they mostly had evaporated by the time weezer got their gear up on stage to play. There was a lot of nervous energy, tying to get the Dogstar guys to hurry up and clear their stuff out of there, made difficult by the fact that everybody in the room wanted to talk to Keanu after Dogstar finished, as well as a lackadaisical pace the Dogstar guys had while breaking down their gear, probably not even realizing there was another band set to play that night. In the end it was down to about 20-25 people - the 17 that weezer got to attend, and a few stragglers.

The funny thing about Dogstar back then is the rest of the band who wasnt Keanu Reeves looked and acted a lot like Joe Piscopo in his SNL years. Picture two goofy white guys with big curly afros, aviator shades and leather bomber jackets freaking out and jumping all over the place like a bar band, and then Keanu in a white t-shirt, standing in the corner quietly playing bass, looking straight down at his feet the whole gig. Well, it was their first show...

Later the "Piscopos" were replaced with some guys who looked like the Goo Goo Dolls sorta. Jason had a short exchange with Keanu that night, and while the exact words said are lost, the recollection is that Jason felt Keanu was cold to him.

Raji's was heavily damaged and condemned in the January '94 Northridge Earthquake. Another location opened up somewhere else for a while, then folded permanently.

Known attendees of the show include some or all of the band Wax, Heather Conley(?), Patrick Finn, Jenny Reddington(?), "Handsome" Jack Polick (much later an occasional 'Jackass' cast member), 'Fast' Eddie Lee(?), and Karl Koch.

The other significant event of the day was the moving in of Rivers, Matt and their friend Justin Fisher to the "Amherst House" [2226 Amherst Ave, West L.A.]. This is the site of "the" garage, where much weezer rehearsals and recording would take place, and eventually the "Say it Aint So" video would be filmed in spring '95. [see 4/9/95 story for many pix of 2226 Amherst]

sadly there are no [known] photos from this historic show. here's a famous Nirvana 7" shot from the same stage a few years back in '90, and a shot from 1992 of an unknown band. This shot shows the stage almost exactly as weezer played it, with the silvery tassels, "fancy"
Raji's logo and such.
[click on any photo for a larger size pop-up version]

See also