The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse rose up from the underworld last night in Madison, WI as Ween de-stabled The Stallion suite at The Sylvee. The five-song prog-rock epic had not been seen in full since night two of the band’s incendiary run in Atlanta last year and, prior to that, not since 2018.

Coming in hot off a “Saturday night, rock night” in Chicago, Ween stormed into the sleepy home of the University of Wisconsin Badgers to round out a Midwestern weekend that began in Minneapolis on Friday. While the benevolent worshippers of the Boognish prepared themselves for what ultimately amounted to a 34-song, nearly three-hour show, a different feat of endurance was happening on campus as the Ironman triathlon tested the wills and stamina of weary participants just as Dean and Gene Ween (Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, respectively) would do that evening.

Even considering the colloquial reshuffling of the setlist deck after traveling some 140 miles from the previous night’s gig, audiences were treated to a bevy of fresh takes. A screeching, sold-out, privates-to-privates crowd immediately set the tone as the band took the stage. Aaron Freeman, who has been looking happier and healthier with each passing show, wore an ear-to-ear grin only exacerbated by his plain yellow t-shirt.

Though the day was the Sabbath for some, the mood called out for all-out rock and that’s what audiences got off the rip with “Captain Fantasy”, “The Grobe”, and “Transdermal Celebration”, all appearing early on, alongside deeper cuts like “Marble Tulip Juicy Tree”. The pride of Asheville, NC, drummer Claude Coleman, got his chance to howl like a prog rock banshee on “The Final Alarm” before Deaner led the entire band down the drain of distortion with a wonderfully chaotic “Polka Dot Tail”.

While still only roughly a third of the way into the show, it appeared that the extended jam during 12 Golden Country Greats B-side “You Were The Fool” would be the highlight. The tender improvisation silenced the rowdy crowd to an awed hush as Deaner and keyboardist Glenn McClelland locked together telepathically, with experienced Joe Russo’s Almost Dead jammer Dave Dreiwitz on bass certainly putting up no objections.

It seemed like that jam would be the standout of the show, that is, until a wild “The Stallion p1 1” appeared. And then another. And then another.

While divine inspiration can take many forms and the Ween fans at The Sylvee on Sunday have many sources to thank for moving the band to uncork the entire movement, one particular section of fans who started the chant, “Four more Stallions!” following the completion of part one certainly deserve some credit. Gener ultimately picked up the chant before taking the band through part two, after which Deaner accepted his fate by simply remarking, “Fuck it.”

Ween – The Stallion (Pts 1 – 5) – 9/10/23

[Video: The Stallion Mang]

After completing the entire feat, the band and audience—hair blown back from an epic ride with the equestrian from the realm of Hades—both seemed to share the expression of, “Well, now what?” Luckily, the perennial frontman Gene Ween held the reigns tight to lead the band through a beautifully cathartic “Take Me Away”, resuming the gut-check rock show that had preceded our journey with “The Stallion”.

Taking the cue to resume the ruckus, it was about the time in the show when Dean Ween got to steer the ship as he sent the audience face-first into a stylistic concrete sidewalk of distortion on “Suckin’ Blood From the Devil’s Dick” and “I Wuz Nothin”. Between the shouting and power chords, Gene Ween offered a soft-handed reminder to those of us out there perhaps hitting it a little hard on the band’s first tour in seven years to, “Slow Down Boy”.

Winding down with GodWeenSatan classics “Wayne’s Pet Youngin”, “Papa Zit” (a.k.a. the musical embodiment of ADHD), and “Birthday Boy”, the band raced across the finish line past “Buckingham Green” in a bitchin’ “El Camino”, made a brief stop under the boardwalk with a jazzy “Pandy Fackler” that continued the night’s jam-heavy theme, and arrived at the shore for a closing “The Mollusk”.

As the band retook the stage to finish out the weekend, everyone there in that room had to stop and wonder “What Deaner Was Talkin’ About” to kick off the encore. The following “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)” felt like the champagne toast of the three-night, three-city run, only to be viscerally outdone by a “Fluffy” that could bring the strongest, stonedest, Brownest man to tears. What Eddie Hazel did for his late mother with his guitar solo on “Maggot Brain”, Dean Ween did on his guitar solo on “Fluffy” for Gener’s dog who may or may not have ever existed. Emotionally, even as the courteous and patient staff of The Sylvee swept up the dredges of fans like the many discarded beer cans they left on the floor, we were all there with “Fluffy”, on the porch.

Ween takes a well-deserved night off tonight, September 11th, before resurfacing in Newport, KY on Tuesday the 12th. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit the band’s website. See below for a collection of fan-shot videos from The Stallion Mang.

Ween – “Fluffy” – 9/10/23

Ween – The Sylvee – Madison, WI – 9/10/23 – Part One

Ween – The Sylvee – Madison, WI – 9/10/23 – Part Two

Setlist: Ween | The Sylvee | Madison, WI | 9/10/23

Set: Fiesta, Captain Fantasy, Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy), The Grobe, Transdermal Celebration, Beacon Light, Boy’s Club, Marble Tulip Juicy Tree, The Argus, The Final Alarm, Bananas and Blow, Polka Dot Tail, Roses Are Free, You Were the Fool, The Stallion pt 1, The Stallion pt 2, The Stallion pt 3, The Stallion pt 4, The Stallion pt 5, Take Me Away, Suckin’ Blood From the Devil’s Dick, Slow Down Boy, I Wuz Nothin, I Can’t Put My Finger on It, Wayne’s Pet Youngin, Papa Zit, Birthday Boy, Buckingham Green, El Camino, Pandy Fackler, The Mollusk

Encore: What Deaner Was Talkin’ About, Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down), Fluffy