HalloWEEN @ Mission Ballroom - Denver, CO

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2019 started pretty grimly for Ween fans, because their saviors chose not to announce any tour dates for the first several months. So, while other acts were dropping summer schedules, children of Boognish gnawed their fingers to the bone, wondering if live Ween this year would even come to be. However, just when all hope seemed lost, up from the mist there rose two festival slots in Illinois and California, as well a three-night run to be held at the Mission Ballroom in Denver, CO on October 30th, 31st, and November 1st. Needless to say, the starved cult following bought out the tickets to all three nights within hours of the sale commencing. 

The HalloWeen run brought fans together from every corner of the country. These “flam” flooded the streets of Denver with Boognish-blessed artwork and apparel. This was especially elevated on Halloween night, when the mood to lose oneself is most high. Ween’s dedicated fanbase may be one of the most devout in all of music today. Meetups with hundreds of hardcore flam were arranged all around town before and after each show, including a beer release by Ween’s own sound man Kirk Miller at Odell Brewery. These were the same diehards that could be found riding the rail for every set and taking massive group photos in the aftermath of each evening. 

Night one felt like a warm greeting and a chance for everyone to get comfortable, artists and fans alike. Ween took the stage after no opener, in their usual “Evening with” approach. As a delightful surprise, they chose the first three tracks from their album White Pepper, in order, to begin the three nights of music. Dean Ween himself commented on the heavy-handed White Pepper intro. Afterward, however, the setlist kept the audience guessing, as a Ween show is known to do. “Awesome Sound,” “Voodoo Lady,” and Pandy Fackler” all made a particularly big splash out of Night one. Ween encored with “Piss Up a Rope.”

The gorgeous, new Mission Ballroom was the perfect choice for Ween’s first venue show of 2019. The pristine lights and sound may have been some of the best Ween has ever had at their disposal. This top notch atmosphere only served to highlight the band’s togetherness, which increases with every performance. Night two’s experience went above and beyond to match the crowds’ Halloween Spirit. 

Applause and joyful laughter filled the ballroom as the band walked out in costume. Gene Ween, dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West called upon the vocal gods and sang his heart out for “Freedom of ’76” while Deaner strummed the jazz melody in a giant angry baby mask. “Hello my pretties!” Gener laughed, brandishing a broom and strutting around sensually in his striped stockings. After following with “Don’t Get Too Close (2 My Fantasy)” and “Touch My Tooter,” Ween touched the crowd’s inner child with a live version of “Loop De Loop,” which is famously featured in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. Halloween night’s setlist remained spooky and whimsical with tunes like “Laura,” “Beacon Light,” “Never Squeal on the Pusher” and “Tear for Eddie” receiving extra attention from the band. After a saturated and loud “Happy Colored Marbles,” Ween returned for two more songs that could not have been chosen as a more appropriate Halloween sendoff. “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night” and a very brown “Poopship Destroyer” described the rest of the night accurately for many of the guests. 

Night three closed out the mid-week three-day weekend with a cozy vibe similar to night one. Surely everyone in attendance felt closer to one another and equally remorseful that only one day of music remained. The setlist did not disappoint, however, nor did Ween. “Did You See Me?” they asked in song form as they opened one last night of favorites such as “The Mollusk,” “Chocolate Town,” “Birthday Boy,” “Roses Are Free,” “Mutilated Lips,” and “Buckingham Green.” A unique, electric rendition of “Tender Situation” with a lovely solo by Glenn on the keys translated the love that Ween was feeling for their devoted fans. As a thanks, they played “Your Party” before a supercharged five-song encore. A heavy bundle of “You Fucked Up,” “Sketches of Winkle” and “Common Bitch” sent the energy of the venue back into the clouds. Then, everyone slightly more hoarse, came together for a wishful “Someday,” followed by a colorful and confident “Homo Rainbow.” If there were anything to take away from Ween’s three nights of splendor and revelry, it would surely be the final song’s encouraging words to “let your colors shine,” whatever freaky shades they may be.