Ween | 10.22.07

live_ween.jpgThe sold-out crowd at The Pageant knew Ween, alright—and they were screaming their enthusiasm at almost every song, as well as singing along with many of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

"We’re Ween!" Yes, Gene Ween uttered this a few times during the band’s rousing St. Louis concert-but only a few, compared to the comically repetitious number of times he proclaimed these words at previous gigs, as though the audience would somehow be filled with stumblers in unaware of who dem folks on stage were. The sold-out crowd at The Pageant knew Ween, alright—and they were screaming their enthusiasm at almost every song, as well as singing along with many of them.

Ween’s audience has grown exponentially in the past decade, a remarkable accomplishment for a band that gets almost zero airplay. I guess if you’re one of the funniest, liveliest, most talented, most genre-bending bands around, even if you’re utterly wack, word eventually gets around. Opening with "The Golden Eel," a tune from the band’s mega-popular The Mollusk release, guitarist Dean Ween and vocalist Gene proceeded to wow the audience on almost every level possible.

It’s probably fair to say that most fans respond to two things at a Ween concert: Dean’s fiery, sometimes incendiary guitar playing, and the unique stoner majesty (if there is such a thing) of songs such as "Dr. Rock," "Take Me Away," "Buckingham Green" (a clear crowd favorite) and "Piss Up a Rope," the latter a song that, though countrified in its original incarnation on 12 Golden Country Greats, becomes an irresistibly nasty little sing-along in concert—hearing the huge crowd do just that on the obscene chorus is one of those concert moments you just don’t forget.

There were many highlights: on the Prince-inspired "Roses Are Free," Ween achieved an arena-rock level of audience pumping, with Dean’s stellar chord progressions and Gene’s lively vocals working in tandem to deliver an intense, vibrant performance. This also applied to diverse tunes like the calypso-flavored "Bananas and Blow," the disco piss-take "Voodoo Lady" (on which Deaner positively shredded his axe at times-lord, can this guy wail!), the relentlessly primal "You Fucked Up"—one of the greatest cathartic numbers to immerse yourself in during the anger phase of any breakup—and a smacking new number called "Learnin’ to Love," clearly an instant classic.

Fans of Ween’s weirder work got stroked also: the set list included "Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down" (the audience sing-along on this one was positively surreal), "Happy Colored Marbles" (a personal fave), the Pink Floyd-ish "Zoloft," and the wonderfully quirky "The Going Gets Tough from the Get-Go," which possibly contains the catchiest use of the word "motherfucker" in a chorus that any band has yet recorded.

Some older treats, not always regulars in their set lists, were the comic narrative "Nan"-which allowed Gene to trace the deterioration of a relationship in the voice of an immature dim-bulb type—and "Never Squeal," an extended version showcasing the drumming skills of Claude Coleman (he’s a critically important element of the Ween sound) and the band’s ability to meld chorus, bass line and vocal dexterity together ingeniously. A pair of Mollusk favorites—"Ocean Man" and "I’ll Be Your Johnny on the Spot" were also kick-ass, audience-pleasing delights.

The show had jazzy moments, hard rock moments, loungy moments and more, as Ween delight in being among the most diverse, adventurous bands around. It would all be for naught if these guys weren’t stellar musicians, but even their detractors—and there are many—have to admit that the dudes can really play. For the loyal Boognish masses, this two hour and 45-minute Weenfest delivered the aurally supreme goods all the way. It’s Ween’s world, we just putter around in it. | Kevin Renick

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