The underground masters of rock and meta-humor, Ween, have started their summer tour off with a second, two-night visit to Red Rocks Amphitheater since their stop last year on July 12th. The dates announced were June 5th and 6th, but shades of brown were pulled over the eyes of Denver one night early as Mike Dillon, close friend of Ween (Claude and Mickey particularly), branded a show "The Pre-Ween Party" with his New Orleans supergroup, Nolatet, on June 4th. Nolatet is made up of punk-jazz madman (a name he is surely tiring of) Mike Dillon, and New Orleans players Brian Haas on Keys, James Singleton on double bass, and the legendary Johnny Vidacovich on drums. Mickey, Glenn, and Dave could all have been found in the crowd, inspired with awe.
The next evening, Ween knocked the socks off of a sold-out crowd by playing hit after hit after hit. Starting with a signature opener, "Exactly Where I'm At," they delved into their biggest songs for Night 1's setlist including "Transdermal Celebration," "What Deaner Was Talking About," "Push th' Little Daisies," "Roses Are Free," and "Chocolate Town" to which Mickey redeemed himself with a mulligan on the solo. The crowd only loved it more. They pressed on with top tracks, ending with the mack-daddies "The Argus" and "The Mollusk" before blowing minds with a heavy-hitting "Licking the Palm for Guava" melded into a frightening "Mushroom Festival in Hell." After the audience gathered their wits, Ween encored with "Stroker Ace," "Homo Rainbow," and a banger of a "You Fucked Up."
Claude Coleman Jr., drummer of Ween and talented multi-instrumentalist, has released three albums so far with his solo project, amandla. On the records, Claude writes the music and plays all the instruments, but he has recently started to promote this work with live shows, utilizing his friends from Ashville, NC in the group. Claude plays guitar and sings for live amandla. After the first Red Rocks Ween show, true fans continued their night with Claude and amandla at the Globe Hall for Night 1 of the official Ween After-Party. Coleman and his assembled band of righteous players rocked the house with a mixture of tracks from all three of his records, ending the evening with one of his oldest songs, "Little Jimmy." Mickey and Glenn came to watch on Night 1.
Superfans strapped on their jammy pacs for the second evening of Ween at Red Rocks, which was unique, indeed. Starting with a lightning scare that delayed entry to the venue, the show was pushed back almost an hour as the lightning continued even as people ambled in. Ween ought to have saved "Homo Rainbow" for Night 2, however, because just when everyone was thinking two nights in a row might be too good to be true, a glorious double-rainbow revealed itself above the stage. Everyone cheered in unison and the show began shortly after. Night 2's setlist was definitely calculated and catered for the real Ween fans. Deep cuts galore, Ween melted faces with fantastic versions of old favorites, starting with the humorously offensive "HIV Song," and continuing with songs both freaky and old such as "Happy Colored Marbles," "Mister Richard Smoker," "Seconds," "Ooh Va La," a tremendous rendition of "Johnny on the Spot," and even a cover of Instant Death's "The Enabler," which is Dave Dreiwitz's side band. After a few more delicious b-tracks like "Frank," "Don't Sweat It," and "Final Alarm," tears were abundant as Ween played "If You Could Save Yourself (You'd Save Us All)" for the first time live in 15 years. The encore for Night 2 was more casual than Night 1, with lovely versions of "Dancing in the Show Tonight" and "Drifter in the Dark," to which Aaron hammed up a harmonica.
Weeners brought these warm, fuzzy feelings with them to the Globe Hall for another After-Party hosted by Claude Coleman Jr. and amandla. Claude and his buddies showed their stuff once again and had the audience dancing into the night, despite having just come from two evenings at the Red Rocks. amandla played everything from the very funky, Prince-inspired "Stoned Love" to "Call Your Own" from his first record, Falling Alone. By the end of the show, fans were calling out amandla tunes to be played and it was clear Ween & friends could have never stopped playing. amandla finished out the whole three-night-ween-run with their rockabilly pop tune, "Backdown," and with the help of the entire audience, a group chant of Ween's "Freedom of '76." Afterward, friends and flam mingled into the wee hours of the morning, wishfully thinking of Ween's next visit.