“You guys, almond milk isn’t milk. It’s definitely juice. Like, there are no almond teats.”
– TimeOut New York magazine.
Anyone who knows me would know that I’m a huge music fan, but I have two outright favourite artists that I will buy absolutely anything they record; Mike Patton (left) and Ween. I’ve seen Mike Patton perform many times with a ton of different bands, as well as solo. As a matter of fact, I’m going to see Faith No More again at Madison Square Garden in a week and a half.
However, I would consider Ween to be my definitive favourite band, I even have a ‘Boognish’ tattoo, but I’ve never seen them live. I’ve had opportunities in the past, but for some reason or another I haven’t been able to go, the last time being in 2010 when they toured Australia and an old friend of mine, Sam Agostino, had a backstage pass for the Melbourne show for me. I was living in Singapore at the time and couldn’t get back for the gig.
For those unfamiliar with Ween, let Wikipedia give you the lowdown:
Ween was an American alternative rock band from New Hope, Pennsylvania that formed in 1984. The key members were vocalist and songwriter Gene Ween and guitarist Dean Ween, the stage names of Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, Jr. The two performed as a duo backed by a Digital Audio Tape for the band’s first ten years of existence before expanding to a four (and later five) piece act. The choice of pseudonyms was inspired by The Ramones. The band’s style was eclectic, and while they could generally be referred to as rock music, one of their defining tendencies has been experimentation with various styles incorporating a strong element of humor and absurdity. Despite being generally unknown in pop music, Ween developed a large, devoted cult following. After a 28-year run, Freeman quit the band in 2012, effectively ending Ween.
So, as you can see there, Ween are no longer with us, but, for several reasons, there is still hope of a reunion. The first would be these quotes:
On July 20, 2012, Melchiondo addressed the supposed “break-up” and stated “I can only speak for myself, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as Aaron and I are both alive on this planet, Ween is still together. We’ve never broken up. The idea of quitting is just laughable. This isn’t something you can quit. This is a life sentence.”
Later, Freeman confirmed his departure from Ween was triggered by his desire to remain sober, saying “All that matters to me is that I’m getting sober. Becoming an out of control drug addict and alcoholic is my own fault and I take responsibility for it. I HAD to leave the Ween organization to stay sober.”
The other reason was that, first, The Dean Ween Group started touring, playing full sets of Ween tracks. Not a bad sign. An even better sign was that Gene Ween posted on Facebook over a week ago that The Gene Ween Band, including other Ween members Claude Coleman Jr. (drums) and Dave Dreiwitz (Bass), were playing at the Celebrate Brooklyn festival on Wednesday, July 22nd. One problem; They weren’t listed on the bill and the show was already sold out because they were supporting Modest Mouse that particular night, but I wasn’t aware of that, I just figured there were lots of other Ween fans in New York. I checked several websites and only a few acknowledged the Gene Ween show, but none of these websites had tickets. My plan? Go there and see if I can pick some up at the show.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
We are still in the process of moving into our new apartment and there were some deliveries that would be arriving at the new place between 12:00pm – 8:00pm on the day of the show. I began to wonder if it was worth the trek out there. I mean, it was quite a hike to the venue for a show that I knew was sold out and it would make things difficult for Anna, so I told her I was thinking about not going. She knew how much it meant to me and convinced me that it wasn’t a problem, and that I should do it. I guess I’m easily swayed.
The plan was as follows: I would be at the apartment from midday, collecting the deliveries, as well as putting up shelves and doing other manly, blue-collar tasks. Anna was due to finish work at around 4:30pm so she’d come home to the new apartment for the rest of the deliveries, I’d take my two trains to the Prospect Park Bandshell, and she would meet me there as soon as our stuff came.
In order to get there, I would need to:
- Walk about 10 minutes from our new place on East 35th Street to the 33rd Street Subway Station.
- Catch the Number 6 train to Bleecker Street Station, which is six stops away.
- Find my way to Broadway-Lafayette Street station, locate the right platform and catch the connecting ‘F’ train from there to 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, another 10 stops and a route that had listed “significant delays” next to it.
- Walk about five minutes from the station to the venue.
It should take me about 45 minutes to get to the Bandshell if all goes smoothly, the gates open at 6:00pm, and Gene Ween comes on at 7:00. Anna arrived at our new place at about 4:45 and I was off.
I walked down to the station and my train was already there waiting for me. I got off at Bleecker Street and had no problems navigating my way through the underground pathways to Broadway-Lafayette Street station, my ‘F’ train showing up about a minute after my arrival. After two or three stops on the ‘F’ train, an announcement came over the intercom stating that, due to delays, my train would be traveling express to 7th Avenue. Okay, now things are starting to go a little too smoothly.
I arrived at 7th Avenue at about 5:15, plenty of time to spare, so I made my way down to Prospect Park. The line was huge, everyone was in Modest Mouse t-shirts, but I could hear a band sound-checking with Ween’s ‘Dr. Rock‘, so I knew I was in the right place. Almost instantly I was approached by a guy; “Need tickets?”, he asked. I asked how much, he said $60, I took two, checked them out and they appeared very legit, so I paid the man.
Now, I have written about the ‘T’ Factor on more than one occasion and, if you’ve read this blog for a while you would know that things in my life don’t tend to pan out like this. Something has to go wrong somewhere and I was getting a little nervous.
Around the same time the gates opened, Anna called me and said she would be on her way soon. I slowly made my way to the front, they scanned my ticket at the gate and I was told, “You’re going to have to go to Ticketmaster and get this reprinted, there’s a booth just around the corner.” I hoped and prayed that this was the obligatory peanut in the turd, but it wasn’t to be. Upon inspection they told me the tickets were fake, they had seen a lot of them for the show and there were none for sale at the door. The ‘T’-factor had well and truly kicked in and I was annoyed, but not surprised. I called Anna to tell her not to bother coming down because the tickets were fake, but I had decided that I may as well stay and listen, seeing as how I had paid $120 for that privilege. As I walked around the grounds I found an area where I could clearly see over the fence and I finally got the closest I ever have to seeing Ween play. The band played a 40-minute set of mostly old Ween material with a couple of tracks from Gene’s Freeman album thrown in for good measure.
- Dr. Rock (Ween)
- The Golden Eel (Ween)
- Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down) (Ween)
- Black Bush (Freeman)
- The Golden Monkey (Freeman)
- I’ll Be Your Johnny On The Spot (Ween)
- H.I.V. Song (Ween)
- Freedom Of ’76 (Ween)
- Voodoo Lady (Ween)
- Sketches of Winkle (Ween)
All in all I still had a great time. Sure, I had to help a girl with a prosthetic arm into a tree so she could see, constantly had some teenage dickwad ask me over and over who was playing so he could tell his friends, but, in reality, I would’ve happily paid $120 for the spot I had, even if it did look like barely visible insects doing a Ween show. But, it’s just not the same without Dean Ween. I hope to see the Dean Ween Band and the Moistboyz while I’m in New York, plus, I’ll always hold out hope of a Ween reunion.
As for the scalper, there were security guys and police out the front asking for information about who was selling the “bad tickets” when I was leaving.
I recorded the entire Gene Ween Band set, here it is from my perspective:
Now, Faith No More and Refused on August 5th! This one I do have tickets for…