Even if you aren’t a superfan, Ween’s Brookyn Bowl shows are worth a look

Gene (left) and Dean Ween bring the Boognish to Brooklyn Bowl.
Illustration: Ian Racoma
Ian Caramanza

Don’t even bother trying to place a finger on Ween’s sound.

There’s Ween, the twangy country band; Ween, the bass-bumpin’ funk band; Ween, the sweeping prog-rock band; and practically a dozen others. To paraphrase Greek philosopher Heraclitus, the only constant about Ween is change.

Since forming in 1984, the eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, alt-rock duo of Gene and Dean Ween (aka Aaron Freeman and Michael “Mickey” Melchiondo Jr., respectively) has showcased its wide-ranging songwriting abilities and crude humor through nine studio albums, eight EPs and dozens of singles. The pair might not be brothers by blood, but their chemistry onstage and in the studio sure makes it seem like they share some DNA, if not one brain.

Ween is set to rock Brooklyn Bowl for President’s Day weekend, three gigs in all. The band has amassed a cult following over the years, so it’s no surprise the shows are selling well. Here’s why you should consider going, too.

They love to surprise. During Ween’s last Vegas appearance—a two-night 2005 Halloween-weekend extravaganza, with sets at Vegoose and the Joint—the group played more than 50 songs, and only repeated seven.

Here’s what you can expect: loads of deep cuts, since word is the band will vary its setlist for each show. Maybe Ween will rummage through the heavy metal riffs of “Wayne’s Pet Youngin’,” or go psychedelic, with The Beatles-inspired sprawl of “Pork Roll Egg and Cheese.” And, of course, listen for Ween’s most popular songs, like “Voodoo Lady” (featured in early-aughts comedies Road Trip and Dude, Where’s My Car?) and experimental-pop jam “Push th’ Little Daisies.” Pretty much anything’s fair game, though.

They improvise. Though far from a traditional jam band, Ween often brings its songs to life with extended improv sessions and seamless transitions into other cuts. Vermont quartet Phish began covering Ween’s “Roses Are Free” in 1997 and has performed it more than 40 times since. And during an August 2015 performance in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, called on Dean and Gene to “get back together and start playing again”—which they did a few months later.

They’re just funny. If Ween’s Kool Aid sonic formula sounds too pungent for your palate, come for the laughs. The brothers Ween are known for their crass-yet-smart sensibilities—in songs and onstage. Songs like “Touch My Tooter” and “The Mollusk” blur the lines between toilet humor and ingenuity. And with stage banter that invites the crowd to participate, expect this engagement to be fully immersive.

Ween February 17-19, 6 p.m., $55-$60. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.

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