Ween completely blows it with a bizarre Vancouver show
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.
Jan 25, 2011 at 4:31am
Deaner does sing my own bare hands. It was a fucked but he also played tender situation with the band. Smarten up and quit talking unnecessary shit. That wasn't a carpenters cover. They did cover let's dance amazingly. Do your research
Jan 25, 2011 at 4:37am
For the record...Dean always does the vocals for My Own Bare Hands.
Jan 25, 2011 at 7:20am
My husband flew from the East Coast to see this show with a buddy...he could never even fathom walking out of a Ween show...until he did last night. What a sh*tshow.
Jan 25, 2011 at 8:15am
A pretty accurate recount of a strange and disappointing evening. I love Ween but this was a painful experience at times. Dean ripped it on the guitar as usual but it would have been next to impossible to cover up what everybody saw from song one. Gene was a complete trainwreck.
Jan 25, 2011 at 8:58am
The band played "Tender Situation" together. What you probably meant to write was that he finished up with a sloppy, lone-wolf rendition of "Don't Sweat It" by looking over his shoulder and proclaiming to the crowd "I hope the band comes out and joins me on this one", which they most certainly did not do.
Then again, I may have been so totally annoyed by that point that "Don't Sweat It" wasn't actually the very last song that he played, but you're wrong nonetheless ;) and in my mind it is.
Jan 25, 2011 at 9:13am
@Worried and Brodie. I know that Deaner sings "My Own Bare Hands". I never stated that he didn't. I said that he took over the mike to sing it. Breanna--thanks for the catch on "Don't Sweat It". I finished up at 3 a.m. and by that point had given up checking my notes. I've changed the story. (ps. he also asked "Where's the band?")
Jan 25, 2011 at 9:25am
I was looking forward to it, didn't know what to expect, I was assuming that this was normal for a ween show. Audience members getting on the stage, gene disappearing, ...
Nice to know I was wrong, but still not worth the risk for $50. first and last ween show ill ever go to.
Jan 25, 2011 at 9:28am
Yes! The show was a total let down! Very disappointing! The band was great, the singer was a total waste. His voice reminded me of "Gollum" from Lord of The Rings all night long!!!. We were really looking forward to this show, after last night, I am sure we won't go back. Too bad, the bad was amazing!
Jan 25, 2011 at 9:36am
I saw Ween at the Gorge in WA last year. At that show they were all F' up (Glen was the exception) and sounded terrible. Normally its fun ( Ive been a fan since the mid 90's ) and you like watching a bit of a train wreck. But after spending 70$ and several hours in a car you deserve to hear a show. I spent 55$ on my ticket for Portland for tomorrow night, I hope I dont regret it.
Jan 25, 2011 at 9:58am
Complete idiots. Gene isn't only to blame, the band was up there to do a job too and they should have tried harder to reign it in and work together, because we paid for our f****ing tickets. And by the way that lets dance cover SUCKED. They should have played the easier ween tunes suited to gene's current voice. Either way UNPROFESSIONAL. Even for Wee.