Gene Ween Band | 02.12 | Pennsylvania

Words & Images by: Jake Krolick

Gene Ween Band :: 02.12.09 :: World Cafe' Live :: Philadelphia, PA

Gene Ween :: 02.12 :: Philly
February 12, 2009 was Darwin Day, a global celebration of the evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin's birth. You know, that bloody English bloke who demonstrated that all species of life have evolved through the process he called natural selection. As a fitting celebration of this man and his ideas, we celebrated in Philadelphia by seeing Gene Ween and his all-star band tear through an ever-evolving variety of music. They repeated the process of musical mutation until they had properly showered us with the evolution of the brown sound.

Violent winds blew up the Northeast corridor while the Stumblebum Brass Band juiced-up the massive World Cafe Live crowd. Frontman Josh Malone spit fire and brimstone, scatting over their catalog with skill. Malone blazed with liveliness during the back-of-the-throat horn blower "Cut the Crap." He sprayed us with the choicest of vulgarities including a description of sex in the rear (no, not the backseat of a Volkswagen). The Ween faithful lapped up his enthusiasm and trash talk, feeling comfortable with the level of playful indecency encapsulated by his vocal repertoire. Not satisfied with the performance's end, the masses demanded more from the dirty-little-brass-band-that-could. They accommodated our wishes with a little floor freestyle session with the crowd dancing and chanting our approval.

These days, taking a break as a band is a popular notion. So, at the end of last summer, Ween decided to go on an indefinite hiatus. However, all was not lost. Enter Aaron Freeman (a.k.a. Gene) new assemblage, called appropriately enough the Gene Ween Band. This inbred side-project pulled the seeds of greatness from within the Ween family circle. All four members of the Gene Ween band are interconnected already through the bands Bustle in Your Hedgerow, Chris Harford & the Band of Changes and Ween. The upside to this is that the music just poured out naturally. The band members knew each other well enough to take risks and just let the songs work themselves out in the process. The downfalls were minimal and due to a lack of actual time to practice, small flubs occurred fairly often. However, for every false step there was a roaring, frothing brown sound that followed.

Metzger & Gene :: 02.12.09
Onstage, Gene blocked the light, pushing an extra 50 pounds tucked under his belt. His face held his distorted smile and for the most part his jovial attitude opened the door for some splendid musical moments. He wrapped a curled lip around opener "Mountains and Buffalo," letting a rock foundation build up around him. Sure Claude Coleman nimbleness and Dean Ween's legendary axe skills are missing, but it offered a greater emphasis on Freeman's gifts as a vocal banshee, Joe Russo's undying spirit on drums, and Scott Metzger's exceptional guitar chops. From the start, the Gene Ween Band demonstrated they could produce the genuine lunacy that makes Ween songs so entertaining. The well-executed opener got a nice harmonious hand from Metzger, but it wasn't until "Boing" that the browned-out sound reared its ugly head. Metzger and Freeman traded soaring licks as Dave Driewitz filled out the bass pocket. In the background Russo smacked the skins. He was a blast to watch all evening, showing such a great sense of control while just bubbling with energy. As he played he would throw in a ton of extracurricular moves as a way of saying, "Hey I've got a shit load of licks, just watch me demonstrate some of my best drum acrobatics." Thrown sticks galore, hand jives, head bounces and arm dances, Russo just leaked pure entertainment. It was as if you were watching Elvin Jones, Keith Moon and Ringo Starr, all wrapped into one.

Double Driewitz :: 02.12.09
Gene cut open the center portion of the evening, hanging out some of his finest distorted faces as he sung "Blue Balloon." Its floating melody carried nicely into the reggae feel of "Thanks and Praises," whose finish was a fist pumping shout to the room about everything Jah. This was complimented by the Parisian oddity "Greg the Bunny," which prompted some in the house to scream, "Play more depressing French songs!" But, Freeman was on a roll and nothing could topple his house of weird.

"Let's Get Divorced" again showcased Freeman's vocal abilities as he matched tones with Dreiwitz's tuba, crudely mouthing, "Let's get divorced/ See you in court/ You're stupid and unworthy of my love." Vocally it exposed the raw, unyielding drollness that only Ween can pull off, while melodically it bore similarities to Ween's classic "Poopship Destroyer." Driewitz's horn playing has improved drastically and his tuba carried the show into one of the trippiest jams of the evening, "I fell in love today." This Shinola song was a throwback to '60s psychedelia. Again, Russo came to life on the drums, holding back by demonstrating his crafty stick work as Metzger and Freeman worked a wondering acid trip of a guitar line that would have made The Mother Hips proud.

The crowd pulsed with punchy spirit as the single set came to a close. On both sides of the stage fists and libations flew before the band emerged to uncork a nasty encore. The "Mr. Sandman", "Stallion Part 4" and "Friends" finale began above the masses with a spin of the disco ball. In true Ween fashion, Gene sang "Mr. Sandman," showcasing his demented-elf vocal aesthetic as bouncing circles of light carried the cover of Pat Ballard's '50s hit around the room. The "Stallion 4" built us up with a roar of guitars and bass before Russo toppled our mountain with his masterful carry of pulsing live beats, which continued through a rocking version of "Friends." This take on "Friends" was the best I've heard to date, slaughtering the EP version, and, judging by the look of the crowd, was immensely appreciated.

When you see the Gene Ween Band, don't come looking for a Ween show. In its place you'll find a refined version of the wild that Ween normally oozes. You're going to be sent on one of the weirdest musical journeys your ears will ever hear, while discovering Ween rarities and covers not normally heard. Even missing half of Ween's core members, the Gene Ween Band proved quite competent in producing a stellar sound. It was smart, witty music that ultimately does more than simply carry fans thru the break – it offers something to cheer about. Freeman mentioned that the band would be going into the studio soon to record an album. Until then, the Gene Ween Band is on tour through mid-April for you to get your taste of the brown sound.

Gene Ween Band :: 02.12.09 :: World Cafe' Live :: Philadelphia, PA
Mountains And Buffalo, It's Not Cool, I'll Miss You, Baby Don't Be Afraid, Boing, Now Be Thankful, Blue Balloons, Give Thanks And Praises, Greg The Bunny, Kite Flying Man, It Freaks Me Out, Let's Get Divorced, I Fell In Love Today, Kansas City Star, DC Will Do You No Good, So Long Jerry > Chancy Boys
Encore: Mr. Sandman, The Stallion Part 4, Friends


Continue reading for more pics from this evening...

JamBase | Chocolate Mountain
Go See Live Music!


Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!


You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



 
 

Comments

phishmann starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 06:53AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phishmann

Looks like fun ,cant wait for Boston.

Chapelchilla starstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 07:16AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Excellent, I am looking forward to the Cat's Cradle show even more now!

bangaz Thu 2/19/2009 08:38AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bangaz

holy shit Gene got fat

Luthur starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 09:02AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Come on, Gene. We love ya, but you are a walking heart attack. Take care of yourself.

mackadocious Thu 2/19/2009 09:06AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mackadocious

yeah, aaron is starting to look like artie lange.

he has such an incredible voice. i can't believe that so many different tones come from that guy. beautiful.

rulosa01 starstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 10:21AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

better fat then on drugs IMO.

PS "I fell in love today" is not a new tune

Demon_Sweat starstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 10:34AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"Mountains and Buffalo" is not a Gene Ween Band original. Deaner has played it with him for years, just not often.

AJ81 starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 11:29AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Wow, amazing show. What about Dave's hair? And tuba.

Bow down to the Boognish!

Broesau Thu 2/19/2009 11:32AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"i fell in love today" is not a new song. Shinola, homes.

kandrokitis Thu 2/19/2009 11:44AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

kandrokitis

what do these guys sound like? pretty muh similar to Ween? definitely would like to check out a show.

deadlie13 starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 12:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

kandrokitis, this band is NOT what people have come to know of Ween in the past 10 years. Don't expect to go to a GWB show expecting a Ween show, cause you will be dissapointed. But, if you're open to it, this band it the f--king shit!

weenhead420 Thu 2/19/2009 12:39PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

weenhead420

YEAH!!! can't wait until that southeast run. This look better than I anticipated!!! BOOGNISH IS ALIVE AND WELL!!! AND JUST MIGHT RAPE YOUR MOTHER!!!

SpreadRed87 Thu 2/19/2009 02:28PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

SpreadRed87

ahhh yes cant wait for atlanta!!

manjotar starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 03:00PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

manjotar

hell yeah, gener puts on a great show no matter where he's at! but yeah, he is lookin like a bag of fat.

nomemory starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/19/2009 04:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

nomemory

like brosaue said, I fell in love today was on shinola vol.1, and was around for years before that. I SOOO wish I could see the GWB, been a ween fan since bout 1994, definitley one of my top 3 bands. I actually went through a period a few years back where i was plagued by dreams of a Ween nature for months, maybe even a year. Ween'll do that to you. Maybe they will catch a second wind and hit up florida. SO many of those rarieties would have me creamin. Especially So long jerry, the outtake from 12 golden country greats.

one last thing for any of you jokers that are still readin this. How the hell does GW smoke like a chimney through every show, and still have one of the largest ranges of any singer out there, and hit the notes night after night?

blessings of boognish upon you all.

toestothenose Thu 2/19/2009 05:16PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

toestothenose

Thanks for the catches folks! Here's most of the encore -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN8xt1dFits

Cheers,

Jake

jhrt3349 Thu 2/19/2009 06:02PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jhrt3349

thanks and praises isn't a bob marley cover, its a whole new song

canoftunapudding Thu 2/19/2009 06:48PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Rebacreates Fri 2/20/2009 10:35AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Rock stars dont take care of themselves. They're inspired by the darkness (drugs, unhealthy food).

bigchris starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/20/2009 11:26AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice Review. Good to hear Gener and the guys in great form. He got so much talent. Hope this tour makes it out west. Maybe a new Ween album in '09 too!

Boognish Provides.

mooneystar Fri 2/20/2009 12:27PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mooneystar

so wait...Ween is on an "official" hiatus? did they say for how long? i love Quebec and White Chocolate - a shitload. Great great records. Guess i'm not big time brown, as i often have no idea what they are up to, and somehow miss their shows when they roll through town.

nomemory starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/20/2009 02:40PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

nomemory

totally, I love that album White Chocolate. ;-) Lol, Pepper and Cheese is a good album too.

Flat5 Fri 2/20/2009 02:52PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Flat5

Sexual Cheese-great Ween album

phishmann starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/20/2009 07:52PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phishmann

GOD WEEN SANTA love it.

jhrt3349 Fri 2/20/2009 11:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jhrt3349

562 Golden Country Greats?

Ontario?

Is this what we're coming to? ;)

D-Line Sat 2/21/2009 10:31AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

its GOD WEEN SATAN. and in the articles it says " "I fell in love today." This Shinola song was a throwback to '60s psychedelia." never says its a new song.i saw them in brooklyn 2 weeks ago and gener was still sick so the show was short and not that great except for a few moments but im still gonna go check out the highline show, it will def be better, cant get enough of the brown. and P.S. if you like any ween albums you should love them all, they have never made a bad album. and so long jerry is about jerry garcia, youtube it (just incase you didnt know) great song

futhepharmer Sat 2/21/2009 11:08AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

futhepharmer

To the above wonderers...weight gain is what happens when you quit speed, a most horrible of drugs. I know thru experience, trust me.

Mad props to Gene for overcoming that demon.

phishmann starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/22/2009 08:19AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phishmann

Thanks for clearing everything up mimi ,we were kidding.(just in case you didnt know)

D-Line Sun 2/22/2009 11:01AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

oh im sorry it was just so dumb (in case you didnt know), i just thought you were stupid

phishmann starstar Sun 2/22/2009 11:16AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phishmann

Thanks

Dedhed515 Mon 4/13/2009 10:02AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

GOD WEEN SATAN!!!!!! going to the Boston show. Couldn't get tickets to the Colorado shows(where I live) but, by chance, came to Mass and got a ticket. What is the Ween scene like in Mass?