Last night Ween played to a sold-out house at the Queen Elizabeth Theater. The instruments were sharp and focused, played with a raw accuracy. While Gene’s croon was a sloppy mess. This should have made for a horrible show, but proved to be mostly entertaining. That is until his band mates got fed up and walked off stage. Ween will always be a cult band, but this was a presentation of comedy and tragedy.
The night started off with a bit of urgency. I pushed forward as I worked my way through the horde to the front doors of the venue. Walking in it was a mad dash to the merchandise tables to try and score the coveted venue/date specific poster. Unfortunately my efforts were not rewarded, as I saw the last poster fly off the table, to some other lucky fanatic. I dragged my feet, with a little bit of a pout as I proceeded to my seat.
As I stood at the base of the stage, staring up at the big green Ween logo, I started to get excited. Various onlookers, came and went near my side, but I stood at the stage until Ween filtered through that velvet curtain. There stood the whole band, sans-Gene, triumphant, epic, and feeling the roar of the eager crowd coursing through their veins. Then suddenly a stumbling, heavy footed, figure emerged from the darkness, it was the Gener. His hair was angry and his steps were careless, but he proceeded to the mic and began the show.
The first song was almost inaudible. Aaron Freeman’s (Gene’s legal name) vocal set was atrocious from the word go. Regardless he still attempted to put his all into it. By the second song, he was wobbling all over the stage, staggering to and fro. People in the crowd started yelling to the band, declaring they could not hear any vocal track, assuming it was a technical glitch. I guess they were not able to see that the discombobulated demeanor of the lead vocalist, was the true reason for the missing audio.
Dean, Dave, Claude, and Glen, powered through their respective portion of the show, playing each song to perfection. The Deaner got on the microphone during a few pieces, and he blew away the lackluster performance of his slurring comrade. You could see the night was not sitting well with the rest of the band either, they all stared at Aaron as he sullied the lyrics. They rolled their eyes as he sat on the stage, when he was presumably too dizzy to stand. And they turned their heads in shame when their almighty general laid down mid song and sang from the stage floor. It was the first true train-wreck performance, I have witnessed live.
The crowd began turning at times, getting fed-up with the spectacle, but in the end they supported their band. When you are attracted to the curious music styling of Ween, you are a lover of the abnormal. So when a show they put on, goes awry, you assume it is just part of the creative process or it is a hilarious prank. Well I will tell you this, last night was not a normal show for this amazing Band. The lead singer was off his goddamn rocker, drunk. He ruined the possibility of great show for his band and his attending fans. On a side note I will admit, although it looked to not be a prank, it was hilarious. Watching some over paid inebriated fool, prance around the stage with the precision of a blind monkey, made me laugh. Not that calm kind of laughter either, that almost evil, from the gut laughter you get when your buddy gets hit in the nuts.
In the end the show still managed to be an amazing spectacle. The majority of the group put on a rigorous and powerful performance, while their leader, put on an interpretive art show. If Ween comes back anytime soon, I would be very likely to see them again, just due to the volatile nature of the band dynamics, and the obvious destructive alcoholism of Mr.Gene Ween. This night will stand high, as the first chemically induced live hari-kari of a musical legend, I have had the pleasure to bare witness.