If you poke around on Monster Fresh long enough you should be able to discover a couple of things fairly easily. One is that we like art. Another is that we really like the band WEEN. Whether it comes from the guys being incredibly discriminate or just simply being incredibly fortunate, WEEN has -and continues to have- some of the most consistent artwork from any band around. Gig posters have proven themselves to be increasingly collectible over the years and the prints created to support and commemorate shows by the boys from New Hope have found themselves within the top tier of this phenomenon. The true secret seems to be that the band often pulls from a very elite group of regular artists, all of which seem to be legitimate fans of the group. Artists like Justin Hampton, Emek, Jermaine Rogers, and Gregg “Gigart” Gordon are not only loyal contributors to the WEEN poster art dynasty, but they are also some of the most respected poster artists in the game, altogether. Another such artist is TODD SLATER, whose latest work involves a pair of posters for the back to back GENE WEEN New Orleans shows during Jazz Fest, which are guaranteed to become instant classics.
Through commissioning artists that are genuine admirers of the band, some of the most effective artwork has come from the designers having the benefit of enough knowledge to incorporate lyrical elements and specific WEEN-centric references directly into the imagery. EMEK‘s Halloween print from last year and Gigart‘s two-part So Cal set that we posted about in Sept. 2009 are prime examples of when that integration is successful. Other times, as with the artwork of WEEN coloring book creator THEA WOLFE, the best interpretations can come from an uncanny ability to capture both the incredible likenesses of Gene and Dean, as well as the unique feeling that their music and live performances can generate. TODD SLATER has proven that neither of these angles would be difficult for him to take on. In 2008 he manufactured a highly recognizable set of prints containing the boys’ images. You may also recall SLATER‘s involvement in such pop-culture based group exhibits that we’ve covered as, IsThisThingOn? (stand-up comedian-themed), BAD DADS (Wes Anderson-inspired), and “Quentin vs. Coen (“An art show tribute to the films of Tarantino and the Brothers”). It’s true that SLATER has proven his abilities in those areas, but he has also made a name for himself by tossing all of the typical principals aside and thinking outside of the box to create something that is truly innovative to the craft. Not everyone can successfully abandon the direct connections to the artist from the poster for their gig, but he’s one of the few that can get away with it without coming across as lazy. In fact, when TODD decides to venture into uncharted territories, he’s generally stepping up his game by trying to offer something truly unique for the artists, as opposed to printing out some corny random sketch from his notebook just to get it over with. Where other artists often get called out for the randomness of their flier imagery, SLATER can construct a Wu Tang poster with images of DR J and LARRY BIRD choking each other out, that is so awesome that no one would dare t0 question it.
The set of prints below have been created for two GENE WEEN solo shows, which will be taking place tonight, Friday May 6th, and tomorrow, Saturday May 7th. GENER will be performing at two different New Orleans locations in correlation with Jazz Fest and will be accompanied by WEEN bassist, Dave Dreiwitz. Tonight’s show will be held at the Blue Nile and has a poster featuring a Frankenstein-style composite creature that’s comprised of features from various LOONY TUNES cartoon characters. Tomorrow’s event, held at Tipitina’s French Quarter, features SLATER providing the same treatment to cartoon characters from the world of Hannah-Barbera. Maybe it’s WEEN‘s own patented mutant pastiche of familiar elements rotated through their own murky brown filter to miraculously create something completely original and inspired or just the sheer twisted nature of the illustration that makes it work. Honestly, I don’t know what it is, but something about the otherwise disconnected imagery just feels like it makes sense.
Based on previous experience, I would advise keeping tabs on ToddSlater.net, for anyone that is unable to get their hands on one or both of the prints, but wants to own them. He often releases remaining copies through his site..
And… for anyone that’s in the New Orleans area and might actually be able to make it to either of these shows, we highly recommend doing so. As usual, the shows should be amazing.
Here’s the ticket info:
The Backbeat Jazzfest Series presents Gene Ween, w/Dave Dreiwitz
Fri, May 6 at the Blue Nile (TIX)
Sat, May 7 at Tipitina’s French Quarter (TIX)