reCAP :: Ween :: 2016.11.25
It wouldn't be Ween if it weren't slightly bizarre, slightly messy, hinting at ramshackle but actually well-constructed, and all intense. And the first night of the band's Thanksgiving weekend stand was all of that, and then some.
In typical Ween fashion, the band drew generously from nine different studio albums -- songs from all of them, in fact -- and a boatload of covers, newer tunes and curiosities, somehow hammering all of it into a cohesive statement, albeit one delivered with the safety and cleanliness of a scatter gun. No other touring band, at least since the salad days of Phish, sounds so sure of its hijinks in the service of something so musical and sonically diverse, which shouldn't work, but does.
It's been a year now since Ween's triumphant return was first announced, and 2016 saw the legendary cult band make good on years of "reunion" whispers, beginning with a Colorado run in February, a New York City run in April, and then a summer and fall of on again/off again appearances culminating in three nights at the Cap. The big difference, more than 20 shows now into the reunion, is in how Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo, Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman, Claude Coleman, Dave Dreiwitz and Glenn McClelland feel and sound well-oiled, any rust from a four-year gap in performances long since shaken.
The crowd was ready to shake off a tryptophan-and-football coma, so the boyos got to business early, peeling "Exactly Where I'm At," "Flutes of the Chi," "Spinal Meningitis" and "Happy Colored Marbles" off the top. The Ween repertoire is almost comically eclectic; a two-plus hour ripper like this one gets you everything from the squirrelly grooves of "Roses Are Free" to the closing "Demon Sweat," which saw Freeman -- OK, "Gener"! -- move to keys. There were favorites stacked on favorites -- "Take Me Away," "Push Th' Little Daisies," "I'll Be Your Johnny On the Spot" -- and tasty rarities, such as "Tender Situation" and "Laura." The fun is in how much there is to unpack; how the band can carom from Floydian psychedelia to blunt-delivery rock and metal, to lounge, honky tonk and cracked-sunshine pop without losing itself.
Whatever it is -- and you define Ween with limiting words at your peril -- it's still working.