Words by: Andrew Bruss :: Images by: Scott Fleishman
Ween :: 06.10.07 :: Hampton Beach Casino :: Hampton Beach, NH
Ween performed a sold out set at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom to a capacity crowd of Boognish-worshiping New Englanders, who, in recent years, have been suffering from a Ween drought.
Ween :: 06.10 :: Hampton Beach, NH
These New Hope, Pennsylvania natives have long met with either overwhelming affection or immense confusion. Dean and Gene Ween (born Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, respectively) have made a career out of providing their listeners with a well-rounded, fractured rock smorgasbord that spans genres as diverse as electronica, flamenco and quasi-horror soundtrack - all in a single album. The soundscapes they create are notoriously bizarre. The tellers of Ween lore include a god named Boognish who came to Dean and Gene in an 8th grade typing class and offered them scepters of wealth and power. Following their run-in with the great and powerful Boognish, the two "brothers" formed Ween as an anarchistic borderline punk act whose sound would be extensively developed in the years to come. Fast forward roughly 20 years and we find Ween on the heels of releasing their Friends EP, and embarking on a nationwide tour that climaxed with a prominent timeslot at this year's Bonnaroo Music Festival.
As the line outside the venue began to run around the corner, attendees flocked to the stage like moths to a flame. The Brothers Ween took the stage flanked by a bassist, synth player and drummer. Shadowed by a hyper-intensive fog display, the group ripped into "She Wanted To Leave" off of 1997's The Mollusk. They then moseyed through "Golden Eel" and "Baby Bitch." Following "Baby Bitch," the group dove head first into one of the most unsettling tunes in any band's repertoire. "Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)" features a young child struggling to gain some understanding behind the suffering her medical situation has created. Folks new to Ween might find the song to be sadistic or simply distasteful, however, for anyone willing to invest some time it's quickly apparent that Ween's ability to fuse humor, theatrics, tight songwriting and impressive instrumental technique is the key to their success.
Mickey Melchiondo :: 06.10
Throughout the night, Ween actively showcased this winning formula with face-melting, genre-spanning tunes like "Touch My Tooter," "Waving My Dick In The Wind" and an acoustic "Help Me Scrape The Mucus Off My Brain." The highlight of their psyched-out, laugh-rock set was "The HIV Song," which many audience members cited as being one of the best runs through the song ever.
The band managed to recreate their unique Monty Python-meets-Frank Zappa style in the live context but a great deal of their hyper-eclectic sound lost its magic outside of the studio. While listening to their career-defining album, Chocolate & Cheese, what strikes the listener is the White Album-esque quality it embodies, where each song is crafted with a specific sound all its own. Unfortunately, when they took these songs outside the studio a degree of their magic seems lost. This is not to say that their performance was remotely generic, but for a longtime listener, their set at Hampton Beach might have fallen short of expectations.
Ween :: 06.10 :: Hampton Beach, NH
Critics and road-hardened Weenheads alike have long built Ween up to be one of the most unique groups out there. They've definitely got an individualistic sound and stage show that's far from common. But, with the hype that follows this act, meeting everyone's expectations is going to be next to impossible. Fortunately, while critics continue to review their hearts out, the job of Dean and Gene is to block this rubbish out and make artistically progressive music. So, even if one critic may have built up the hopes of another, even if one fan finds their live versions to be a bit less polished then their studio work, a ticket to a Ween show will still guarantee a night of quality entertainment outside the box of conventionality.
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