It’s an odd feeling when all the members of an amazing band are alive and well, but retired from playing with each other. I mean hell; we’ve all spent nearly 25 years pretending that we really like David Byrne’s solo output. But with these past four years being the first any of us have spent on a Ween-less Earth since the Reagan administration, it’s felt like the elephant in the room has been ass-fucking the monkey on all of our backs. Ween is an entity – a pulsating mode of existence that helps to clarify the cosmic joke. Seriously though, there have been very few bands in history where in the natural evolution of their sound, a greater, more tangible essence emerged. You got your Beatles, your Stones, your Dead, your Phish, your Zeppelin, your Zappa, your Velvet Underground, your Wu-Tang, your Ween – all bands that instill a part of their DNA within your sub-conscious from which you draw your internal connection with the band. These are all bands that if somebody asked you what comes to mind when you hear their name, you don’t think of a song or an album or a picture or an emotion – you just think of the inherent spirit which can only be classified by the band name itself. Do you remember that first interview with Deaner after Gener left the band? The one where he said “I can only speak for myself, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as Aaron and I are both alive on this planet, Ween is still together. We’ve never broken up. The idea of quitting is just laughable. This isn’t something you can quit. This is a life sentence.” I think real Ween fans have always felt that in their hearts, and The Boognish can only lay dormant for so long. His recent ascension was an inevitability, but it’s still a relief.
I saw both Gener and Deaner play with their respective solo groups this year, and both performances were amazing. But not to state the obvious, they were both missing that which made the others’ performances shine. I mean, it’s not like you go to Vegas just to see Siegfried. I saw Gener in Chicago the night before the Fare Thee Well shows and his voice was phenomenal. I saw Deaner in Portland in October, and the vocals were seriously lacking. But Gener’s band was too polished – too worried about making mistakes – and that raw danger was just oozing at Deaner’s gig. Both shows had a “Spinal Meningitis” and a “Golden Eel,” and both gigs closed with “HIV” and “The Mollusk” being played in the final three songs. Now obviously DWG benefited greatly by having Claude on drums, and Dave on bass, but was also slightly dampened by Deaner’s fanboy choice of having Roger Waters’ son, Harry on keys. The dude was a super wook, seemingly nothing more than a competent player, very unfamiliar with the songs, and definitely got the gig because of his Floyd DNA. Gener on the other hand picked some no-namers who could nail shit. Both had their bust-outs: Gener playing the Country Greats b-side, never-before-played on the Ween stage, and totally apropos for the setting “So Long Jerry,” and Deaner crushing the rare instrumental cover of The Carpenters’ “Superstar.” The only glaring difference in setlist choices were the ones that you could presume Gener would be afraid of – classics like “Booze Me Up” and “Put the Coke on My Dick.” And the one way that these Ween reunion shows could be marred is if he’s still afraid of some songs, and puts the kybosh on some setlist choices. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a hard stage for him to return to sober. We all expect Deaner to be respectful, but it’s not like he won’t be catching a buzz. What Gener needs to be prepared for is to embrace the buzz of the stage. The power of the reborn Boognish will potentially hit harder than any drug or liquor could, but hopefully the small swells of debauchery at his solo shows will have been a great first step.
This is a time for celebration folks. A time to see two brothers become one again. A time to praise the demon-God and his unleashing from the orbital buffer. And with Gener saying that we’ll see some never-before played songs busted out, I’m calling for the debut of “The Rift.” See you guys in Denver.
Ween reunites for their first shows in Denver, CO on February 12,13, and 14 of 2016
Gene Ween Band – Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL 07/02/15
(For a While) I Couldn’t Play My Guitar Like a Man
Freedom of ‘76
I Can’t Put My Finger On It
I’ll Be Your Jonny On The Spot
Right to the Ways and the Rules of the World
She Wanted to Leave
So Long Jerry
The Golden Eel
Dean Ween Group – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR 10/14/15
Piss Up a Rope
The Golden Eel
Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain
With My Own Bare Hands
Roses Are Free
I Play It Off Legit
Booze Me Up and Get Me High
It’s Gonna Be a Long Night
Put the Coke on My Dick
Did You See Me?
Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?
The Blarney Stone
Encore: The HIV Song, She Fucks Me, The Mollusk
Photo by Jaowski