Thanks to a good buddy of mine, I got to see Ween at the Tabernacle. (Those are some other guys’ heads blocking the shot, though.)
During one of the most stressful moving experiences of my existence on this planet (and I’ve had some doozies), I got to see Ween, after being a fan of them for 27 years.
Think about that. There was a very cute girl usher at the Tabernacle who more than likely has been on Earth for fewer years than I’ve been into Ween. There were probably a lot of girls there who were younger than my like of the band. And yet, in all that time, I never saw Ween in concert.
Now at last I have, and it was the “immortal” Ween lineup; Dean and Gene, Dave Dreiwitz (bass), Claude Coleman Jr. (drums), and Glenn McClelland (!!!!!, keyboards). All five members were in top form, particularly Coleman and Deaner. Dean played the entire show barefoot. He apparently has not aged in the past two decades. Papa Gene’s struggles over the years are more visible.
They played “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese” and “The Stallion (Pt. 2)” from The Pod, my personal favorite Ween album. During the latter, Gene did the whole “Deaner, where can you be, come hither” bit, and I realized I was witnessing a performance of a song that I had been listening to for 27 years, performed by the guys who originally made it. I know, right?!? WHOO!!!
We had pizza and a few beers, and during “Reggaejunkiejew”, a Pure Guava track I’ve always loved, I had to make a break for the restroom. While waiting to piss out several Yuenglings, I overheard other dudes lamenting that they couldn’t believe the band was playing a song they came to hear, and they had to go take a whiz. Exactly what I was thinking.
I got to hear this live, and the band absolutely tore it up. Dreiwitz kills the bassline.
They played “Mutilated Lips” from The Mollusk, and “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)”, which is a song I hate from Chocolate & Cheese, but it sounded fantastic live. They did a slowed-down version of another song I don’t like, White Pepper’s “Stroker Ace”, and it beat the pants off the original. In fact, the show turned me around on a few Ween tunes I didn’t previously like that much. Plus, they didn’t play a single song I predicted they would; every time they counted off, it was a surprise from their vast catalog.
“Happy Colored Marbles” and “I Don’t Want It” were included (both from quebec), and neither were anywhere near as sad as the studio cuts. “Ice Castles” (White Pepper) became a rousing anthem. In case anyone in the audience was deaf, the band employed a lovely blonde woman to convey the lyrics in sign language, adding an endearing amount of gestural oomph to go with the music. Sometimes when I looked back to her, she was replaced by a regular bald dude, who accented his signing with air guitar. I can’t properly communicate the wonderfulness of all this.
I bet the biggest challenge in ESL would be the cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, which Dean handled deftly, despite the harsh overall tone of the Tabernacle sound system. (Also the venue oversold. And while I’m on the subject; on the way into the Tabernacle, we were all separated by gender. The females were let right in, while us men were frisked by security. When it was my turn, the guard detected a Zero bar wrapper in the back pocket of my jeans. I discarded it in the designated bin, where I saw a couple pipes that some previous guys were forced to chuck. The entire show, two obnoxious and overweight girls uncomfortably close to us puffed away on their stanky-ass weed in front of everyone. One of the pair insisted on exiting the row past us about six times, and each time we had to figure out how to make way for this fat person and not be crushed into our seats. So good going, Tabernacle security.)
I digress. Ween reminded me why I loved “Hey Ya”, and of course Dean could handle the vocals, when both he and Outkast’s Andre 3000 are devotees of the same inspirational figure (Prince). I’d forgotten how excellent the guitar parts of the song were, and Dean is an unsung master on lead and solo.
Also performed: “I Gots A Weasel” (GodWeenSatan), “The Golden Eel” (Mollusk), “Voodoo Lady” (Chocolate & Cheese), “The HIV Song” (ibid.), “Your Party” (La Cucaracha, an album Dean hates), and “Blarney Stone” (Mollusk; this was the uproarious closer to the show). They encored with “Fiesta”, La Cucaracha‘s intro, and holy balls, I saw Glenn McClelland and Claude Coleman Jr. rock the utter fuck out of it.
There were a couple of songs I didn’t recognize, or forgot. I think they turned the lights out with White Pepper‘s “Even If You Don’t”. I’ve never formally met the band; I only enjoyed some brief correspondence back in 1991. Catching up with them again after almost three decades was a cosmic validation. An affirmation that the brown never dies.
Like Henry Rollins said in 1990: “you will get down on your filthy knees and crawl to the altar that is Ween.” I assure you, emphatically, you couldn’t crawl to a better altar in rock. Ween is a Hall of Fame in and of itself.