Live: Ween at Terminal 5
photo by Johnny Leather
Text by Michael D. Ayers
Ween Terminal 5 Friday, November 30
On your knees, you big booty bitch, start sucking. Ween fans love this line.
They love a lot of lines that they’ll shout out as often as Dean and Gene will sing em, but this one in particular seems to summarize what a Ween concert is about. Not a Ween album; as Rob describes here , Ween albums are complicated, ripe with parody at times, but sweet and sentimental at others. Oxymoronic, both in lyric and genre forms, but still something of value to the artists. But maybe one of the key elements within a Ween album for me is that I’ve tended to listen to them when alone.
So when you see a guy holding his girlfriend during “Piss Up A Rope,” a smile on his face as he repeats the aforementioned line, there is something utterly confusing, or sad, or possibly scary about this. Ween is wholeheartedly a dude’s band and they, Ween, knows this. And somehow, their shows transform into spaces unlike any other in rock: one’s filled with mostly sophomoric excuses to revert back to seventh grade locker room behavior. Jokes about poo become relevant and fresh; dissing and degrading chicks behind their backs is more than acceptable, and jubilantly shouting “AIDS!”— which are only one of two lyrics in “The HIV Song”—is not by all means weird. (The other lyric being “HIV” if you haven’t heard this.)
So I’m standing there, wondering, is this a bad thing? People are having a great time; they’re invested in spending their Friday night with 3500 other people, all forgetting about whatever it is they have going on in real life. I guess I can see that it’s okay to let one’s hair down every now and then and “act your shoe size and not your age” (I’m quoting my seventh grade gym teacher here). I mean after all, “Waving My Dick In The Wind” isn’t meant to be a plead for action; it’s a love song about missing someone.
So to get down to the music, Ween was touring to support their recent La Cucaracha, but to my disappointment, they only played three songs off it. The swanky, sleazy “Your Party,” in which Gene Ween sung as elegantly as possible; he swayed his hips back and forth at time, while trying to conceal a grin that suggested this cheese was pretty funny to him. The instrumental “Fiesta” showed up in the encore, and the other song that made it in was the bizarre, and downright creepy “Object.” Had the crowd sung the lyrics to this one in unison, of which Gene describes you as being a "piece of meat," who presumably is killed and discarded, except for your sweater that "they found," I would have been full on scared. But they didn’t. I guess there are lines you don’t cross; either that, or the song is just too new in the Ween catalog.
Older tunes such as “Reggaejunkiejew,” the heavy guitar thrashing of “You Fucked Up,” and the jammed out, proggy “I’ll Be Your Johnny On The Spot” were well received (by me) but I preferred the slower, sometimes spacey ballads that if you’re a Ween veteran, you’re probably sick of hearing by now. No one cared too much about the distorted “Zoloft." And “Baby Bitch” was as tender as they claim they can be, despite another crowd pleasing shout together line towards the end that goes, “Fuck you, you stinkin’ ass ho.” I like to think that I’ve made amends with the baby bitches of my past, so yet again, if you’re not expecting it, it’s weird to hear people shout this all at once.
At this point, it’s probably even silly to overanalyze a Ween show. I came to realize, they’re not a band for the casual fan like me. I’ve listened to the albums enough to recognize most songs, and enjoy most songs, but in concert it feels like too much of an inside joke for me to identify with. That's fine. After all, this is a band with a song called “Poop Ship Destroyer.”
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