Ween | Live Studio Webcast | WeenRadio.com | 7.22.03
I love the internet. How else could silly ideas like this ever come to fruition? To help promote their upcoming record Quebec, scheduled for release on Sanctuary Records on August 5th, Ween announced a special, one-of-a-kind all-request concert. For weeks ahead of time, fans voted online for the songs they'd like to hear. They tallied the votes and played the winners in a live concert from their recording studio, webcast on WeenRadio.com, the premier online source for live and rare Ween. They had to know the hard-core fans would flood the ballot box with older, rarely played classics. Yet they were willing to relearn and tear through these old chestnuts as a showing of love and appreciation to their devoted fanbase. Covering songs from six different albums, plus several unreleased tracks, the mighty stomp of live Ween proved their brownest days are not behind them.
The show opened with some poignant words from Gener: "Welcome to our request concert. You didn't pay a cent so don't fuckin' complain. This shit is free." The band surprised everyone by opening with "Happy Colored Marbles" from the new album Quebec. WeenRadio has been previewing songs from Quebec, and fans showed their support by requesting the newer songs as well as older gems. The surprises were just beginning, however, as they followed with the first-ever live rendition of the entire "Stallion" suite. Parts 1 and 2 had emerged on 1991's The Pod, with Part 3 surfacing on 1992's Pure Guava. Parts 4 and 5 are unreleased, having only been heard on live tapes or studio outtakes. Putting all five parts together has been a fan's dream for years, and apparently the message got through. The lyrics are, like most Ween words, bizarre and abstract: "Don't caress the weasel / And don't fall too soon / Don't seek the blood from the panther / Don't take a trip to you soon." I’m not sure what it means, but it sounds awfully important.
Having already made history, the band had its work cut out for them to maintain the energy. They chose to take a step back, morphing into the slow, Bee-Gees-on-quaaludes groove of "Demon Sweat." This was the third of six total selections from The Pod, easily the most from any album. They followed by introducing their friend Glenn to help out on cowbell for "Cover it with Gas and Set it on Fire." Originally released on 1993's Sky Cruiser EP, it also appears on 1999's live record Paintin' the Town Brown. The jam was thick on this one, prompting Gener to comment afterwards: "That was some great shit, right?"
They climbed back into The Pod for the thick chunky jam of "Awesome Sound" and then changed gears again for the slow lament of "Cold Blows the Wind" from 1997's The Mollusk. Kudos to the fans for voting for a wide array of songs, and not simply focusing in on one sound or era. The last two tracks represent extreme examples of the disparity of their sound and catalog, from foot-stomping metal anthems to sad Irish melodies. Hardly any other band alive could pull this off without sounding forced or pompous, but with them you know it's just what they're hearing in their own heads.
By Adam Gulledge
I'd like to especially congratulate the fans who voted for the next number, truly one of the most ridiculous songs in their entire canon. "Pollo Asado" also appeared originally on The Pod, but it's not clear if this is really a song. Perhaps "sound art" would be a better term, as the song mainly features Gener ordering fast food from a Mexican restaurant in a silly accent while Deaner jams on a twangy surf-rock guitar hook. Why this works I'm really not sure, it's just one of the ongoing mysteries of Ween. Returning to Pure Guava with "reggaejunkiejew," they landed on one of the tightest grooves of the whole concert. They've obviously been practicing, sounding tight as a drum and bursting at the seams to go on the road. It's a good thing the first part of their world tour opened three days after this show, because the four studio walls could not have held in this sound any longer.
"Tried and True" from their new record followed, and then they dipped once more into The Pod for "Mononucleosis." They continued with the sweet love song "Stay Forever" from 2000's White Pepper, and then wrapped things up with one more extreme rarity. The band was hired early last year to write a jingle for a Pizza Hut commercial promoting a new pizza with the cheese hidden inside the crust. After several songs were submitted and summarily rejected, someone at Pizza Hut sobered up and realized there might be an easier way. The band has posted two of these experiments in the Audio section of Ween.com, and apparently they've taken the country by storm. Thus it was a fitting finale to their all-request concert to play, for the first time ever, "Where’d the Cheese Go?", adapting into its live persona as "Where'd the motherfuckin' cheese go at?"
This show represented a new idea in concerts: live studio improv. Imagine your favorite jambands playing and improvising live, except with all the whistles, bells and toys of the studio at their disposal instead of just the gear they're able to lug around on the road with them. This concert was like climbing inside a Ween CD, getting to hear the energy and vitality of their live shows while maintaining studio level quality and a vast array of sounds and atmospheres. Hopefully more bands will experiment with combining live and studio elements like this in the future.
The band has a busy schedule coming up. Tuesday, August 5th is the release date for Quebec, along with an all-day listening party at WeenRadio.com. A worldwide tour along with TV appearances, webcasts, and in-store concerts are in the works. They’re also moving ahead with "WeenAmp or something," a free program that will connect you to all things Ween, including their website, message boards, chatroom, live streams, and a peer-to-peer trading program like FurthurNet focusing exclusively on Ween. "Yes, good things come with a new record," Deaner writes on the website, and here's hoping this album continues to further endear Ween to the weird world around them. We'll wrap up with Gener's parting words: "Yeah! Yeah! Alright guys. We are Ween. Thanks for flying WeenRadio. We'll see you out there somewhere. Goodnight."
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