Noise

Five thoughts: Ween at Brooklyn Bowl (February 17)

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Gene (left) and Dean Ween, performing Friday night at Brooklyn Bowl.
Photo: Adam Shane

1. Brooklyn Bowl is a great place to see a show, but this might be what the almost-three-year-old venue does best: host multiple nights with the same band—while turning itself into home base for fans of that act.

Weird-rock veterans Ween took the place over this past weekend, and the immersion went beyond the three well-attended shows (Saturday sold out, Friday and Sunday almost did). The Bowl’s dining menu paid homage to Ween’s catalog throughout the run, rebranding dishes with song titles like “The Stallion” (ribeye steak) and “The Golden Eel” (calamari). Plus, Saturday featured a combo bowling tournament/brunch called Let Me Lick Your Plate, in honor of early Ween cut “L.M.L.Y.P.” (in which the “P” stands for … well, you can guess).

For Ween fans here in Las Vegas and far beyond, there was no better place to be early in 2017.

2. Phish often gets referred to as an insider’s band—one that delivers far more for knowledgeable fans than newbies—but compared to Ween, Phish might as well be U2.

I’ve heard most of Ween’s studio work at some point (early LPs GodWeenSatan: The Oneness and The Pod tend to be my go-tos), but I felt fairly lost amid the mass of material thrown our way Friday night. Gazing out across the audience, I could sense the divide: Those locked in to each note and lyric (see: giant smiles and lots of backward baseball caps), and those less familiar but curious enough to brave what can be an intimidating scene (see: dazed faces).

I fit into the latter group but still found much to enjoy, sonically speaking. Ween’s music is varied enough to maintain my attention, even when I don’t know exactly what the band’s playing, or what it might mean.

3. Dean and Gene have aged quite differently. Dean still looks, roughly, like the version from the ’90s. He still has one of the best guitar faces in rock. And he’s still a cutup when he steps to the mic (“Hello Brooklyn!” he announced to open the show).

Gene, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have guessed he’s only 46, physically speaking. His voice has held up well, however, and he can still get a roar with a simple whisper or facial expression. Few frontmen command a crowd better.

4. As on record, Ween live rides the line between serious prowess and pure silliness. At one end of the spectrum: 15-minute mid-set highlight “Woman and Man,” which featured a massive Hendrix-Ian solo from Dean as good as anything you’ll hear on the psych-rock circuit today. On the other: the night’s final number, “Pollo Asado,” which features the immortal lyrics, “Do you make guacamole?/Yes, I do make guacamole/Uh, I would like a side of guacamole on my Tostitos/I like to dip the Tostitos in the guacamole.”

Both are genius, in their own way.

5. A few stats from Friday’s show: 28 songs played, two hours and 23 minutes onstage, 11 albums represented, one surprise guest (Fishbone saxman Angelo Moore, who sat in on “Your Party”).

And for the three-night run: 77 songs total … without a single repeat. Now that’s how you take over a venue for a weekend.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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