Ween completely blows it with a bizarre Vancouver show

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      At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Monday, January 24

      Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of the Boognish’s lair this morning.

      Based on the complete shitshow that was Ween at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Monday, it’s pretty much guaranteed that guitarist Mickey Melchiondo was weaving an impressive tapestry of profanity. And the object of his no-doubt-considerable ire? Well, it wasn’t drummer Claude Coleman Jr., bassist Dave Dreiwitz, or keyboardist Glenn McClelland. Like Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween), they were all total pros, ripping through everything they tackled with devastating precision, whether it was an extra-eerie “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)” or a greased-lightning cover of Motí¶rhead’s “Ace of Spades”.

      No, the dude with some explaining to do would be one Aaron Freeman, better known to the good people of New Hope, Pennsylvania, as Gene Ween. Freeman hitting the stage with a hairdo that was a bizarre combination of Edward Scissorhands and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future was the first hint that something was amiss. Clue number two came during the set-opening instrumental, “Fiesta”. As his bandmates nailed every stop-and-start note, Freeman stood there like a drunk simpleton who couldn’t, despite his best efforts, figure out how to keep time on a tambourine.

      Things didn’t get any better when he stepped up to the mike. Early numbers like “Mister Richard Smoker” and “Transdermal Celebration” were advance warning that Freeman would be spending the night singing in a voice that was a weird, high-camp cross between Ethel Merman and the Heat Miser from A Year Without Santa Claus.

      The ship was temporarily righted when Melchiondo commandeered the mike for the shitkicker classic “Piss Up a Rope”, and the awesomely brown “Tender Situation” was just fucked up enough to make it seem like Ween was a fully functioning unit. Except, on this night, no such luck.

      Things went from bad to beyond-weird quickly. To the visible dismay of Melchiondo, Freeman totally blew the lyrics right after the epic guitar solo in “Buckingham Green”. And he decided it was easier to sit on the stage than to stand for “Mutilated Lips”.

      Halfway through the show, it was obvious that all was far from good in the world of Ween. At one point, as Freeman futilely attempted to tune a guitar, Melchiondo turned the singer’s amp down when he wasn’t looking and then assumed vocal duties for “With My Own Bare Hands”.

      An otherwise blistering “Reggaejunkiejew” was torpedoed when Freeman lay down on the stage midsong, the other members of Ween subsequently getting their revenge with an extended instrumental version of the Carpenters’ “Superstar”.

      It was after the latter number that things arguably came to a head. A completely out of it Freeman finally bounced up to slur “Sorry if your panties are in a bunch.” He then proved himself utterly incapable of hitting half the notes in “Freedom of ’76”.

      Obviously having had enough, the rest of Ween retreated to the back of the stage while Freeman again attempted to tune his guitar, a task he eventually abandoned. Subsequently, there was a certain irony to watching a totally out of it waste case serenade the crowd with a solo “Birthday Boy”, mostly because of the lyrics “Help me now, I’m going down/And I don’t know if I’ll be okay.” It was right around then that Melchiondo finally bailed, leaving the stage with the other members of the band.

      What followed was funny—and sad—as Freeman finished up a sloppy, lone-wolf rendition of “Don’t Sweat It” by looking over his shoulder and then mumbled, “Hey, where’s the band?” Shortly thereafter, he walked off alone and the lights came up, leaving the audience pissed.

      As anyone lucky enough to have seen Ween at the Starfish Room on the Chocolate and Cheese tour knows full well, getting fucked up was once a regular occurrence for Ween. But that was the band was playing for 400 people in shitty dive bars. On this night, Freeman—and Freeman alone—blew it in front of nearly 3,000 fans who’d paid $50 a ticket. And you didn’t have to be a fly on the wall to realize that the Boognish and the singer’s bandmates weren’t the only ones not amused.

      Watch Aaron Freeman (aka Gene Ween) perform at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on January 24, 2011.

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      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:02am

      The entire show it felt as if someone may have abducted Gene and replaced him with a stoned Richard Simmons. It was hard to witness the pathetic wheedlings of a once amazingly talented artist. I've loved Ween for the better part of two decades, and have traveled near and far to see them. But this show was just sad. Not an emotion that Ween has ever inspired in me.


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:03am

      Never had such a polar opposite reaction to a review in my life. I think everybody has kinda lost sight of what Ween was and is. A glue and coke inspired head trip band.

      In my opinion, everybody is just grumpy cuz they didn't get their obligatory encore.

      My FAVORITE part of the show was Gene alone spinning Tender Situation, Don't Sweat It, Birthday Boy and Sarah...that's the kind of Ween fan I am. Not a fan of the shitty sound that dominated the night until then. It was pretty unprofessional of the band to ditch him and not come back for an encore.

      Yeah...Gene was fucked up. It's WEEN. Should be 'nuff said.


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:10am

      Honeslly, I'm suprised it took this many years for something like this to go down. Think of ALL the shows and ALL the drugs thrown in their faces at every one of them....Meltdown potential is always HIGH. Plus, ,itd be kinda cool to be at the show where it finally happened. A piece of history.

      Frank Rizzo

      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:14am

      Ween is my 14 year old daughter's fave band (probably due to dad's influence?). What a piece of crap first show for her. I wish she had come the last time they were here - that show was amazing. She still loves Ween, but thought that Gene "looked like a drug addict".


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:22am

      ^ Dude, I mean thats the reality of Ween. Drugs are what make some songs great, Drugs can also be part of the downfall. Its almost the risk you take when bringing your 14 year old daughter...


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:22am

      About a third of the way through I started to get the feeling that someone might have abducted Gener and replaced him with a stoned Richard Simmons. It was sad to witness the insipid wheedlings of a once truly great artist. I've traveled near and far to see Ween, but this show beared no resemblance to the high energy, amazing tight and talented band that has the power to seriously rock a venue and inspire their fans. That just wasn't Ween out there.


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:36am

      Thought the show was awesome, yeah the sound was crappy, and Gene'r couldn't really play or sing, but I had a lotta fun! Seen em 4 times, never like that tho! Just when it seemed Gene was pulling it together,...nope!! Lol, Its rock and roll kids


      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:42am

      It was fitting singing, “Help me now, I’m going down". From what we could see - and we were right up at front stage, Gene wasn't [just] drunk. It was more of a delirium. He wasn't sloppy like a drunk, just not really all there. He could barely light a cigarette, and watching him sing, he forgot the words often. They simply didn't seem into playing but they did belt out a few good tunes on their own at least. The ending was a complete disappointment, esp when the lights came on with no encore from at least the rest of the band. I sure hope they get their shit sorted for Seattle's show tonight. I still love em as much as ever but a good live show for the ticket price would've been good. Will there be a next time? All the best Ween. We still love you.

      chad h

      Jan 25, 2011 at 10:45am

      not the best show, but it was still good for a laugh! Sleep it off Gener. Better luck next time.