It was a story of redemption this weekend for Ween, the alt-rock underlords whose very name evokes a rise-from-the-ashes ethos. After starting off a Southeast weekend run at Asheville, NC’s Rabbit Rabbit with a show that suffered from sound issues throughout, the unholy fraternal duo of Dean and Gene Ween (Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, respectively) finished strong with a pair of heaters at Atlanta’s The Eastern on Friday and Saturday.
This weekend’s three-night, two-city run is all about context. Thursday’s Asheville show was not without its moments. Though muddy sound caused an early hindrance to the performance, Ween—with a quarter century’s experience touring as a live band—leaned into the technical difficulties by pulling out the pallet swatch and going deep brown. A one-two punch of “I Wuz Nothin” and “How High Can You Fly?” probed the depths of the band’s feedback-laden glory, while a pairing of “Zoloft” and “Pandy Fackler” showed off its improvisational prowess, with keyboardist Glenn McLelland giving the jam some elegance with his classical wizardry.
All that said, Ween entered The Eastern on Friday with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. There’s no denying the energy on Thursday was off for a number of factors, so when Deaner, Gener, Dave Dreiwitz, Claude Coleman Jr., and Glenn McLelland greeted the sold-out crowd ascending into the rafters of the expertly-designed Eastern, they were ready to play.
The headline of the evening was, no doubt, the chronological telling of all five parts of “The Stallion” suite, which wound down a 31-song main set. Beyond “The Stallion” (mang), Ween dished out everything but an ice cube in the sink. Heavy hitters like “Captain Fantasy”, “The Grobe”, “Buckingham Green”, “Big Jilm”, and “Fat Lenny” were nestled among softer cuts like “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)”, “She Fucks Me”, “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About”, “Tried and True”, and others; there was something for everyone on Saturday. Above all else, the energy dynamic was restored as Ween assumed its usual goofy comfort level in front of a raucous and appreciative capacity crowd for a highlight performance of 2022.
Riding that energy into Saturday, Ween took the stage with the slap-happy exuberance of a band with nothing left to prove. Gene and Dean’s smiles were pervasive throughout the evening as they offered a telling of “Japanese Cowboy” as a birthday present to their sound man Kirk Miller, obliged requests for “Pumpin’ 4 the Man”, and for the third time that weekend denied the costumed “Fruit Man” who requested the reggae snoozer from 2007’s La Cucaracha—which the band has yet to perform live. Deaner soared early on with a transcendent nine-minute tear through “A Tear For Eddie”.
Nestled among the 36-song performance was the first “Cover It With Gas And Set It On Fire” since 11/2/18, per Brownbase. The back-nine of the show was a setlist’s setlist with “Laura”, “Doctor Rock”, “Pumpin'”, “Boing”, “Cover It With Gas”, “Awesome Sound”, “Demon Sweat”, and “Cornbread Red” all coming in succession, as well a super brown pairing of “Licking the Palm For Guava” and “Mushroom Festival in Hell” shouted via bullhorn.
Putting a cap on the main set, Ween returned to The Eastern stage once more for another four-song encore. Just as the band had done the night prior, Ween left The Eastern on Saturday on a whisper rather than a roar by closing out with “Drifter in the Dark” similar to the tender “I’m Holding You” from Friday.
With no more shows until October, the Boognish will retire to its pagan resting place to probe the recesses of its twisted fantasies for the upcoming Halloween run, set for Roadrunner in Boston (10/28–10/29) and Beacon Theatre in New York (10/31–11/1). For tickets visit the band’s website. Check out each of the setlists from Ween’s Southeast run as well as a collection of videos from The Stallion Mang (unless otherwise noted).
Ween – Rabbit Rabbit – Asheville, NC – 9/15/22 – Full Show
Ween – “The Golden Eel” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Frank” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Transdermal Celebration” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Tick” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Voodoo Lady” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Your Party” – 9/15/22
Ween – “Stroker Ace” – 9/15/22
Ween – “I Can’t Put My Finger On It” – 9/15/22
Ween – The Eastern – Atlanta, GA – 9/16/22 – Full Show
[Video: Uyama Shiranui]
Ween – “Captain Fantasy” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)” – 9/16/22
Ween – “The Grobe” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Buckingham Green” – 9/16/22
Ween – “With My Own Bare Hands” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Big Jilm” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Fat Lenny” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Did You See Me?” – 9/16/22
Ween – “I Don’t Want It” – 9/16/22
Ween – “The Argus” – 9/16/22
Ween – “The Stallion Parts 1–5” – 9/16/22
Ween – “Homo Rainbow” – 9/16/22
Ween – The Eastern – Atlanta, GA – 9/17/22 – Full Show Part 1
Ween – The Eastern – Atlanta, GA – 9/17/22 – Full Show Part 2
Ween – “A Tear For Eddie” – 9/17/22
Ween – “Laura” – 9/17/22
Ween – “Licking The Palm For Guava” > “Mushroom Festival In Hell” – 9/17/22
Ween – “Cover It With Gas And Set It On Fire” – 9/17/22
Ween – “Vallejo” – 9/17/22
Setlist: Ween | Rabbit Rabbit | Asheville, NC | 9/15/22
Birthday Boy, Chocolate Town, Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain, The Mollusk, The Golden Eel, Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down), Light Me Up, Piss Up a Rope, I Wuz Nothin, How High Can You Fly?, I Don’t Want to Leave You on the Farm, Roses Are Free, Frank, Puerto Rican Power, Touch My Tooter, Mister Richard Smoker, Gabrielle, Common Bitch, Zoloft > Pandy Fackler, The Final Alarm, Polka Dot Tail, Exactly Where I’m At, Push th’ Little Daisies, Tender Situation, Transdermal Celebration, Tick, Suckin’ Blood From the Devil’s Dick, I Gots a Weasel, Boy’s Club, Voodoo Lady, Your Party
Encore: You Fucked Up, Stroker Ace, I Can’t Put My Finger on It
– soundcheck: I Don’t Want to Leave You on the Farm, Exactly Where I’m At, Chocolate Town
– Gene on acoustic for Birthday Boy through The Mollusk
Setlist: Ween | The Eastern | Atlanta, GA | 9/16/22
She Wanted to Leave, Pork Roll Egg and Cheese, Captain Fantasy, Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy), Object, The Grobe, Buckingham Green, Bananas and Blow, Learnin’ to Love, With My Own Bare Hands, She Fucks Me, Big Jilm, Even If You Don’t, Mononucleosis, The Enabler, What Deaner Was Talkin’ About, Waving My Dick in the Wind, Fat Lenny, Did You See Me?, Flutes of the Chi, Tried and True, I Don’t Want It, The Argus, The Stallion pt 1, The Stallion pt 2, The Stallion pt 3, The Stallion pt 4, The Stallion pt 5, Ocean Man, I’ll Be Your Jonny on the Spot, Homo Rainbow
Encore: Fiesta, Nan, Mister Would You Please Help My Pony?, I’m Holding You
Setlist: Ween | The Eastern | Atlanta, GA | 9/17/22
Exactly Where I’m At, Piss Up a Rope, Polka Dot Tail, Japanese Cowboy, Take Me Away, Gabrielle, The Goin’ Gets Tough From the Getgo, Beacon Light, Happy Colored Marbles, The HIV Song, A Tear For Eddie, Back to Basom, Roses Are Free, Stay Forever, Your Party, Laura, Doctor Rock, Pumpin’ 4 the Man, Boing, Cover It With Gas and Set It on Fire, Awesome Sound, Demon Sweat, Cornbread Red, The Mollusk, Never Squeal, Licking the Palm For Guava> Mushroom Festival in Hell, Up on the Hill, Wayne’s Pet Youngin, You Fucked Up, Vallejo, Someday
Encore: I’m Dancing in the Show Tonight, Puerto Rican Power, Touch My Tooter, Drifter in the Dark