Back in 2012, the legendary East Coast rock band Ween decided to call it a quits. After decades of touring and recording since forming Ween in high school, Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman told Rolling Stone that he was “done” with Ween, even though Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo felt otherwise. It was a pretty sad day for us crusty, irreverent East Coast assholes who grew up listening to the band. If you live in the I-95 corridor, they’re as iconic as bitching about paying a toll to leave New Jersey or eating a Taylor pork roll egg and cheese sandwich when you’re hungover.
Mickey spent his time running a charter fishing out of Belmar, NJ, always leaving fans optimistic that he and Aaron would work things out. Today they announced they’ll reunite to play a weekend at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado over President’s Day weekend, February 12 and 13.
Ween is “that band” your weird older cousin saw at the Electric Factory in Philly during his junior year of college and still hasn’t stopped talking about the experience. Formed in New Hope, Pennsylvania in 1994, Ween’s music is impossible to describe. It’s grungy yet psychedelic, like Frank Zappa and Prince had a baby in the backseat of a taxi cab. They’re far from being a stoner jam band — Freeman once said “I like [Phish frontman] Trey Anastasio as a person, but as far as the music goes, all that jam band shit makes me want to puke.” Yet they’re also the ultimate stoner band — there are rip-shit guitar solos and lyrics that sound like they were written by billygoat astronauts on acid. Back in the day, there was A LOT of heavy boozing at Ween shows — by both the band and the audience. Ween shows were the live music equivalent of IDGAF.
At the end of the day, Ween is music by suburban East Coast degenerates for suburban East Coast degenerates. They thrive on absurdity, inside jokes, and contradictions, like a close-knit group of friends.
Since very few are familiar with their songs, here are seven stand-outs to familiarize yourself.
Bananas and Blow
If Jimmy Buffett wrote tropical odes to cocaine instead of margaritas, this is what it’d sound like.
Pork Roll Egg and Cheese
An anthem dedicated to the Taylor ham sandwich every Jersey Bro grew up eating (..and continues to crush religiously for breakfast, especially for hangovers): Pork roll egg and cheese, if you please, on a kaiser bun.
One of the most iconic sounds off 1997’s The Mollusk.
Piss Up a Rope
Ween’s fifth album in 1996, 12 Golden Country Greats, was a bit of a genre shift for the band. They recruited a bunch of legendary Nashville studio session musicians then wrote songs with a brash, in-your-face Ween sensibility that commercial country Nashpop-types would never be able to stomach. Oh, the irony. The result is honky tonk genius like “Piss Up A Rope,” one of the more sing-songy choruses in the Ween catalog:
You ride my ass
Like a horse in a saddle
Now you’re up shits creek
With a turd for a paddle
And I can’t cope
Piss up a rope
A lot of people think this is a love song. LOL at them. It’s actually one of the more poignant, straight-to-the-point songs about heroin addiction. “Fuck you, you stinky-ass ho.”
Probably the band’s biggest “hit” over the years. The jam was in Todd Phillip’s seminal college comedy Roadtrip back in 1999.
The title track off Weed’s 1997 concept album about the ocean.
Roses Are Free
Phish has covered this jam since 1997 (the first show they played it at in Rochester was filmed by Todd Phillips for his documentary on Phish, Bittersweet Motel), which introduced the music of Ween to the entire jam band scene. But look, it’s a Ween song. They rarely ever played it live in the ’90s, yet it’s become one of the most beloved songs in the Ween catalog. In Dean Ween’s own wordshttp://www.jambase.com/Articles/126613/Dean-Ween-Discusses-Phish-Roses-Are-Free-Cover:
Usually it’s our finale of finales, the last song of the last encore. Phish, by covering it, made it one of our popular and most crowd pleasing tunes. For that we owe Trey forever because it opened up so many people’s ears to the music of Ween and introduced us to a whole new audience within the jam band scene, which never would have happened otherwise.”