Despite an ever-growing following of freaks and geeks, Ween remains music’s best kept secret. Ween began as Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, also known as Dean and Gene Ween. Now, with resident badasses Claude Coleman Jr., Dave Dreiwitz and Glenn McClelland to back them up, they’re at the top of their game and the height of their success. And somehow they’re still the best band you’ve never heard of. However, Ween continues gathering magic with every show, leaving the world brown and mesmerized in their wake, so that may soon change.
Ween is always surprising their fans with exciting new tour dates, like their recent announcement of the two-night 12 Golden Country Greats - inspired run with the Shit Creek Boys in Nashville, followed soon after by a HalloWeen show in Chicago. Last weekend marked the end of their 2018 summer tour with back-to-back evenings in Portland.
The grass reflected bright green against the cloudless skies on both Friday and Saturday at Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn. Fans, or “flam,” couldn’t have asked for better weather and Ween provided two unforgettable setlists to sharpen your boot. The best thing about Ween, though, is the fact that a written setlist for them doesn’t mean much. Liable to take requests from fans or change their own minds on a whim with the show’s direction, the band is continuously keeping everyone guessing, even each other. Ween has also been slathering on the jams of late. Known for knocking jam bands in the past, it’s tickling that many of Ween's recent fans are also Phish heads and the like. Mickey has been really getting around, playing bars with friends, such as Mike Dillon, and also with his group The Dean Ween Group across the US. The result is a much more comfortable god of rock on the Ween stage, and henceforth longer, browner jams.
Friday started the double-nighter off on a legendary foot with Ween’s first ever live performance of “The Rift” from their 2005 record, Shinola, Vol. 1. They continued with a mixture of songs for fans of all levels of devotion. For example, the boys cranked out an extra greasy “Frank,” plus “Albino Sunburned Girl” and “Seconds” for the diehards, while being careful not to forget important numbers such as “Transdermal Celebration,” “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)” and encoring with “Ocean Man.”
Saturday, like Friday, was a balanced set of deep cuts and big hits like “Springtime” and “Roses Are Free,” respectively, with the odd brown jam and Metallica cover thrown in. “Zoloft” into “Pandy Fackler” was a pleasant surprise. Saturday’s two tons of rock was particularly heavy, though, riddled with big bangers like “Voodoo Lady,” “Mushroom Festival in Hell” and “Demon Sweat,” which teased into the final crowd-unifying track, “The Mollusk.”
As an added bonus, the encore for Portland’s second show was an intimate duet between Deaner and Gener, reminiscent of their days as a dynamic duo.