Heath Ledger killed the Joker (ha-ha). Everyone is concerned with originality and ownership. But c’mon folks, “Why so serious?”. If the ending results of an idea are more crisp and refreshed under new and loving inspiration, then I welcome them. Is this the case for The Gene Ween Band? What?
Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman, Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger, and Joe Russo is the official band roster. A dream team of some of indie/jam rock’s finest are the meat in this gumbo, branded with the Boognish seal of “WEEN”. Does this overshadow the “Gene” & “Band” aspects? Many will expect the universe. Many will naysay.
Like an unstoppable outbreak of Tinea cruris flares, this line-up is being shrugged off by many Weenies as “another cover band” and celebrated everywhere else music matters. Their brief tour in December around local Northeast spots produced a few brown bootlegs, providing insight to their sound. I wanted more! Using the web to find out the scoop, and thanks to the cyber-savvy section of WEEN’s fan base, I was able to gather this much about reactions to the new project:
“Gene Ween Band featuring Dean Ween. Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger, & Joe Russo. Is Dean Ween playing too?”
This is a typical example of one of the many obnoxious statements found in the Weenforum, the home to as many disgusting images and awesomely ridiculous tour support as the 1980 film Roadie. Weenforum is a chaotic cesspool of rabid, mainly Eastcoast, Ween fans. They speak of the “brothers” in a loving fatherly manner and on a first name basis like most lot kids. There are posters from all over the world. I haven’t posted on there myself in over 6 years because… I dunno, Westcoast kids come across as beastly and blunt(ed). I come from a 1980s generation of Westcoast-wannbe-Deadheads who were too young to ever actually see Jerry. For you kids who actually grew up on a lot: sorry Charlie. We had to settle for Warren Haynes & “The Dead”, and you know what? He sounds great. Better than most of the many poor quality, garbled Dead bootleg tapes on Jerry’s best nights. Purists who refuse to listen to anything after Pigpen died are missing out, is all I’m saying. I do not claim to be the world’s dirtiest Gov’t Mule fan either but, from my experience, when the artist who fronts the band is a “side player”, expect good things.
Many people think Phish plays the better version of “Roses are Free” (haha). I think WEEN plays “Enter Sandman” better than Metallica, and it’s all relative to the listener and how the band performs the song. The musicians who are performing own the music at that moment while they are playing it, so just listen!
Aaron Freeman has mixed and mashed musicians to come to the current WEEN team we have today. I know it doesn’t just happen and he’s no executor, but bands form and reform through life’s bullshit, tragedy, chance, and from willing musicians who actually mesh. Listeners think WEEN is currently dead, or on hiatus. I don’t think in such absolutes (AND I saw them last July), for bands are just bands and can be reformed or redirected, and there is obviously no “WEEN” without both “brothers” in attendance. Meanwhile, Freeman‘s performances are as intense as ever.
Can we get a motherfucking moment of silence for this small chronic break?
Dave Dreiwitz, of Instant Death and WEEN fame, is on bass? ‘Nuff said. He’s really the 3rd WEEN brother at this point. Dave also performs with Metzger (guitar) and Russo (drums) in the rock quartet Bustle in Your Hedgerow. The group, which covers Zeppelin tunes and includes Russo‘s long time partner, Marco Benevento (The Duo), played shows all January, AFTER being featured at Jamcruise 7. They’re vets. Metzger and Russo have another band called American Babies with a heavy focus on Country and Folk Rock. All of these musicians are, practically, playing together nonstop, in one form or another. They can’t stop. They won’t stop. They don’t even know how to stop. In between The Gene Ween Band show dates, guitar hero Scott Metzger is set to play with The Rosy Nolan Band, and Serena Jean (with Joe Russo on drums?).
The Gene Ween Band has been much anticipated and delayed, but it appears that a bonafide tour is on our hands, starting with the rescheduled show at the Williamsburg Music Hall in BK on February 7th, and ending at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA on April 16th. With 14 scheduled shows ahead, including brief breaks in between (I’m sure they will be playing in one band or another during these “breaks”) can these boss players show up to the standards their “Beavis and Butthead” fans have created for them?
February 7th, Williamburg, Brooklyn
Possibly the “whitest” part of Brooklyn, there is even a “Whitest Kids U’ Know” mural. I park my car by the Clockwork-Orangesque-European-Style 10-Speed-Bicycle gang and walk by a dozen pseudo Urban Outfitters & American Apparel stores toward the Williamsburg Music Hall. It’s a shitty little venue, although it’s perfect for the neighborhood & the band. Brown. Obama Mural? Check. Hairy, gargantuan college kids in North Face jackets? Check. Gene Ween and his family parked out front in a SUV? Check. Nitrous Mafia parked directly behind them? OK, This is the place. After haggling with the hairy ginger behind the box-office window 3 times to let me in with my prearranged spot on the guestlist, he became really irritating and would not succumb to my Jedi mind tricks. I finally bought a ticket after I saw some lady have the same exact problem.
I walked the gauntlet of beards and stretched lobes and, after having come out the other side well sanded, I needed a drink from the bar, which is the saving grace of that awful sweatbox. The opening act, Stumblebum Brass Band, had started and were pretty good. Enough already though, the plan was The Gene Ween Band to start at 9 PM, but the window at the box office said “GEEN WEEN BAND 10 PM” in green hi-liter. At 10:15 the band emerges to a glorious uproar from the audience. The enormous frat boys from Old School were mega-hyphy off all the Red Bull Vodkas they’d been spilling on the stage. They were frothing at the mouth at this point and frightening the 15% of the crowd that was female with exposed chest hair and glazed wolfish stares. These guys were everywhere, dominating the front of the crowd and being tall myself and up at the front of the floor made me guilty by association. I had one toothless tattooed skeez ask me to “slide over 12 inches” so she could see. I didn’t take that golden set up to humiliate her with verbal perverted rhetorical situations where I indeed took her advice, and instead opted for a more passive “I was here first”.
The crowd was drunk, loud, and ready. As the players took their instruments, Aaron approached the microphone and said with a smile “I hope we don’t suck.”
They opened up with “The Stallion Part 4” and it was like a warm hug hello.
“I Fell In Love Today” followed and really set the Gener vibe.
“Baby Don’t Be Afraid“, “It Freaks Me Out” and “Kansas City Star” were all a 1-2-3 blur.
After the chanting and taunting of the Ween-head with glow stick glasses, they continued with
“Blue Balloon” – Gene Ween busted out the keyboard for a bonus trip.
At this point the “Frank the Tank” grabbed Dave’s sweat rag, which he had been denied earlier and ran away. There was my in with my partner in crime Rosy J, who was sandwiched in front of the stage. Luckily bowls, bongs, and blunts kept the crowd happy. No stampede here.
“It’s Not Cool” – punk rock!
“Kite Flying Man” – Gene decided to smoke a cigarette, sweet. That’s our license to smoke inside.
“Ooh Vah Lah” – Metzger shined on the solo.
“Thanks And Praises” – the trumpet player from Stumblebum came out and played with the band, blowing the shit out of that horn. The freaks around me were sweating LSD onto me so the rest was a maddening blur, but I had fun.
“Gener’s Gone” – is a kind of depressing tune but, it is a perfect set closer and has a sweet guitar solo.
At this point, the encore barely seemed like one, but they rocked it out to:
“Let’s Get Divorced” – an awesome ode to his ex. Dave played a big ass Tuba and Gene stuffed a $5 bill into the horn. Sweet!
“Mountains And Buffalo”
before finishing the night in style with “Greg The Bunny“.
Nooooooo! It ended abruptly. Everyone in the crowd was chanting without realizing the last set was the encore.
Throughout the night, Gene spent a lot of time re-tuning his guitar in, what I’m assuming, was an attempt to not “suck”. I don’t care if the sound is better. The side players didn’t out step their instruments and everyone sang backup. All in all, The Gene Ween Band is very “garage”. The best part of the night was the music, while the worst part was the spew of hairy, smelly, macho frat boys that tried to monopolize the front row. Luckily Rosy J and I, along with a couple others in our mafia crew, held it down and pushed them farther and farther into the crowds.
The Gene Ween Band might think it’s a side project but, in reality, it is its own entity. Performing what we love and rocking it all in between. You can tell they are friends who work together well.
I had been requesting Instant Death songs as usual but, when that became infectious, I stopped so as to let other jackasses make jackasses of themselves. I ran into the toothless skeez and her boyfriend at the coat check line; they were in front this time. We made it outside and I proceeded to thizz-dance on top of cars, while apes parallel-parking Mercedez Benz’s smashed Toyota bumpers. Wu-Tang Forever (Disc 1) and White-Castle cheeseburger sliders were on the program for the way home. I had an awesome time and will definitely see GWB on their other Northeast shows; anything within 5 hours is the rule.