We all make mistakes. Being a Ween fan for over 20 years, I don’t think my heart could have taken writing a griping report of the band’s recent gig at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, which a lot of people are calling a big disappointment. In a way, I can’t say I’m surprised that one of the Weeners got too messed up to perform with his usual flair. But Ween has gained a reputation for enjoying illicit substances in the past and playing for pockets of equally messed up people. This stuff happens in a business where you’re being passed free drugs most places you play, and it clearly happened to Gene Ween at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
An overly-high rock star shitting the bed amongst an otherwise ridiculously tight and professional band is bereft of excuses. Again, we all screw up, but fans also paid upwards of $50 a ticket to watch a band meltdown on stage. Looking thinner, older and more ragged than I remember, a clearly off his rocker Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman started out pretty rough,train-wrecking especially hard on the 20-minute long “Reggaejunkiejew” as he disappeared and then came back to lay down on the stage for a while. After a couple more songs, the band lost patience and left him on his own to play sad versions of “Birthday Boy,” and “Sarah.” He was a mess the entire time. Then he walked off and it was over.
Though I wish I could recollect set list gems or personal highlights, I really don’t have much. I sat down with my mates, felt elation at seeing the band, got giddy when they played “Fiesta,” giggled when my buddy called “Mister Richard Smoker” seconds before they played it and then soon after I lost it, literally.
What I can report is that the rest of Ween was spot on. Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo pulled off some insane guitar work, and drummer Claude Coleman was fantastic. As a band, Ween have always been oddly talented, even back in their days of huffing Scotchguard, smoking too much grass and writing bizarre songs about ordering Mexican food. With a cult-like following, their shows have become the stuff of legend and, for some, this show was a dream come true. It’s a shame that so many people went home unhappy, promising never to see the band again. But this wasn’t a Ke$ha gig full of dance choreography, it was Ween, and they’re known for being brown. Unfortunately for many this night was just a lot browner than expected.