By Jane Smith
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
April 9, 2001
In this musical era most rock bands book gigantic arenas, complain about “piracy” MP3-trading and insist upon security that demeans the average concertgoer to the level of a criminal. But one rock group still considers its fans and generates an effort to please them: Ween.
An all-inclusive pass to jam with Ween uncensored was issued to a sold-out audience Thursday night at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. Flash photography, drunken fans and recording devices littered the tiny venue as the rock band dove into more than two and a half hours of sweaty, inexhaustible musical fun.
“This was by far a much better show,” said Emily Cole, a freshman at George Washington University, who saw Ween once before in concert. “Their encores are usually really great.”
Gene and Dean Ween (Aaron Freeman and Micky Melchiondo) are at the core of the band that has traditionally kept their old school, grunge appearance and obscene lyrical content. Lost in their world of male chauvinism, sex and beer they elevated the audience with adolescent lyrics and intense musical interplay, creating a haven for rock refugees.
“It was really awesome during the song ‘Buenos Tardos, Amigo,'” said Brain Satenstein, a senior at the University of Maryland. “Everyone started clapping and I never heard that before. Maybe that will start up as a new thing at concerts.”
Even die-hard fans fell victim to Ween’s eccentric stage performance throughout the show. The simple stage, with its non-impressive equipment and numerous beer bottles, hosted an array of circus-like antics, including unique dances through clouds of fog and portions of songs sung through a bullhorn. Gene Ween kept the fiery atmosphere alive with steady swigs from his Jack Daniels bottle.
The most incredulous aspect of the night was the attention Ween paid to its supporters. Ping-pong dialogue between Gene, Dean and the audience invited fans to a personal close-up of the band and accommodated for continuous laughs and cheers. The performing band actually cared about the appearance and effect of their playing which led to such scenes like Dean Wean shouting for “just the red lights” or Gene requesting some disco ball action.
“It was so much more diverse than what I was expecting,” said Emily Laton, a sophomore at James Madison University. “Before I went to the show I had no idea what to expect.”
Some of the top crowd pleasers were numbers like “The Blarney Stone,” “Buckingham Green” and “Johnny on the Spot.” Ween also whirled fans into frenzy with their cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
The momentum for body-bopping, beer-guzzling good times was kept alive through the combination of planned numbers mixed with occasional surprise songs, thrilling members of the band and crowd alike.
“I was surprised,” Cole said. “They played a lot of old stuff, and not too much of their new songs. They played their classic, favorite songs that everyone likes.”
Mimicking their song “The Going Gets Tough from the Get Go,” Ween opened and closed their performance aided only by the enthusiastic crowd, which molded the night’s intimate, basement-like atmosphere.
The bum-clad rock stars gave back a humanistic face to rock ‘n’ roll, forcing fans to enjoy themselves and the musical experience.
For more U-WIRE stories click here