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Ween at DAR Constitution Hall

By Stephen Brookes • The Washington Post • January 26, 2008

Dean (l) and Gene Ween
Has Ween ever met a style it didn’t like? The ridiculously under-appreciated cult band has been cranking out albums for the past 18 years that free-range across the musical landscape -- prog rock, metal, boogie woogie, glam, reggae, alt-country, even a little mariachi – and do it with a sly combination of wit, sophistication and jaw-dropping crudity.  They brought all that to DAR Constitution Hall on Wednesday, turning in a two and a half hour set that had the small but crazy-in-love audience on its feet the whole night, cheering on classics like “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down),” “Bananas and Blow” and the aggressive little love song, “Wavin’ My D*ck in the Wind.”
Ween, for the uninitiated, is Gene and Dean Ween – or, as their birth certificates would have it, Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo.  World-class ironists who insist -- oh, the irony -- that they’re not being ironic at all, they shift from style to style with easy virtuosity, and from the sublime to the raunchy without taking either too seriously. That was clear in some of the best music of the night, which came from their latest disc, La Cucaracha -- including the angry blues-rock number “With My Own Bare Hands,” the faux-smarmy “Your Party” and an upbeat version of “Object.”   
And despite a few weak moments – a lackluster “I Got to Put the Hammer Down” and a narcoticized version of “Zoloft” didn’t exactly make musical history – the rest of the evening was hard-driving goodness. Gene Ween’s a sharp, funny singer (and turned in some mean mandolin on “Ocean Man”), but it was really Dean’s guitar playing that drove the show. From the finger-melting delivery of “I’ll be Your Jonny on the Spot” to his channeling of Hendrix in the Afro-Caribbean boogie “Voodoo Lady,” he’s one of the more brain-bending guitarists around. Both got superb support from their backup trio, including the stick-twirling Claude Coleman Jr. on drums, Glenn McLelland on keyboards, and Dave Dreiwitz providing fine, funky bass work throughout.

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 11:33AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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