May 27, 2013
Williamsburg Music Hall
May 10, 2013
by Jasen Ribadenera
So here we are. Products of our environment, sort of. I arrived at the Music Hall in rare form and went straight for the standing room. On a mission, I approached the audience from behind and screamed for “Lomma.” At least 26 heads whipped ’round, including the guy doing sound but I payed no mind until I saw one head turn that I recognized, that I… knew. Lomma. My friend. We went down to the bar and I explained that I was feeling rather “weird” and tonight I would require special attention. He ordered me a Budweiser, ice cold, and we went back upstairs to see the show.
This was an expected strange show because Aaron Freeman (AKA Gene Ween, of the infamous smart-ass group WEEN) was on his own for the first time since quitting the band. The news that WEEN, which had been an obsession of mine for 20 years was done really put me in an unshakable funk since it broke last summer and it was bittersweet to go see a show featuring Aaron only. Then when you throw in the fact that he was going to be playing WEEN songs it felt like going on a beautiful vacation with yr parents. But I digress. The man is reportedly trying to stay sober and finds it impossible within that life so it’s hard to be mad at the guy.
Anyways, Aaron walked out with longtime Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz and some guitar player that I don’t know and they start with “Flutes of the Chi” and it’s amazing. “It sounds so different” I remember thinking. I couldn’t understand why. Then suddenly they were playing some song I didn’t know and the worm slowly started to turn. My world went Sudan bleak and I had to sit down. I was burning up, and fast. It was too much. Maybe I was missing WEEN guitarist Dean (Mickey Melchiando) to such an extreme that my body declared mutiny. A goddamn coup. All I could think while I was slunked on the floor was “Fuck me. Take me to the hospital. I gotta go to the hospital. The doctor. The hospital.” That dirty word kept echoing through my brain as I tried to focus my vision on Lomma and lunge out to grip his calf, look up and break the bad news. I vaguely remember the beginning of “Your Party” when his voice suddenly commanded me to stand up and let it pass. “Ride it out. C’mon! Yr not going to the hospital. Yr not a fucking raver!” “Son of a goddamn bitch! He’s right!” I thought as Aaron sang the lyrics “Later on when we were under the covers I closed my eyes and I drifted to sleep. I dreamt about me maybe throwing a party and just how great that would be.” I was back.
At this point I noticed the band was all sitting down and playing acoustic. This was already half way through the show and I was just realizing it. Whoa. I was shocked at how out of it I was but at the same time this realization slammed me smack dab back into the present. I recall classic songs being followed with unrecognizable covers, or maybe they were originals, I don’t know, but whatever they were my momentum was seriously being molested. This has to be Aarons curse. He obviously wants to move on as an artist from his “Gene Ween” days but fans (not unlike myself) can’t handle that. We love him and wish him well but goddammit we want to hear “Demon Sweat!” It’s gotta be tough for him.
Anyways, the three piece acoustic thing was working more often than not and they handled songs like “The Mollusk”, “Birthday Boy”, and surprisingly enough “The Grobe” beautifully. Aaron was really happy and that really came through in the music. He didn’t even appear shaken when the house lights came on and E.M.T.s came rushing in to retrieve a crowd member who was splayed out sideways and drooling on the floor. “Nows yr chance to go to the hospital.” Lomma said through a shit eating grin. “Shotgun!” I yelped and the band played on.
The highlight of the night for me was the last song of the encore. I figured it had to be a “hit” but when I recognized the opening chords to “Buenos Tardes Amigos” I felt a real happiness rise. An epic revenge tale set south of the border. When he sang “I looked at every fiesta, for you I wanted to greet. Maybe I’d sell you a chicken with poison interlaced with the meat” it was just what I needed on this vibrating Friday night, Lomma too. I could tell. I just couldn’t help but feel down when, during the guitar solo, I looked over and it wasn’t Deaner. Ughhh. Even now, as I write this I’m blasting the brothers Ween and hearing a dog’s high pitch staccato’d bark directly down from my window and somehow I understand the mongrel. I know little guy, I know. I hear ya’. I’m holding out hope too.
’till the wheels fall off
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