When drugs and getting fucked up are part of a band’s legend, it feels hypocritical to take said band to task for getting too wasted to play at a level anyone would consider adequate. Yet, Aaron Freeman – aka Gene Ween – of Ween’s performances of late have moved well beyond “hey, it’s Ween, of course they get loaded before each show” to just plain scary and worrisome. Ween rarely tours these days and hasn’t released a new album in nearly four years. Considering Gener’s melt down last night in Vancouver, the lack of output should come as no surprise.
[Photo by Rebecca Blissett]
One of the first signs of trouble came last month in Carrboro, NC, where Freeman was so out of it during a solo gig at Cat’s Cradle that he had trouble finishing any of the songs he played during the first hour of the gig before he finally pulled himself together towards the end of the show. Last night’s Ween show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver featured more of the same as detailed in Mike Usinger’s review for Straight.com…
As his bandmates nailed every stop-and-start note, Freeman stood there like a drunk simpleton who couldn’t, despite his best efforts, figure out how to keep time on a tambourine.
Things didn’t get any better when he stepped up to the mike. Early numbers like “Mister Richard Smoker” and “Transdermal Celebration” were advance warning that Freeman would be spending the night singing in a voice that was a weird, high-camp cross between Ethel Merman and the Heat Miser from A Year Without Santa Claus.
Things went from bad to beyond-weird quickly. To the visible dismay of Melchiondo, Freeman totally blew the lyrics right after the epic guitar solo in “Buckingham Green”. And he decided it was easier to sit on the stage than to stand for “Mutilated Lips”.
Gener’s antics got so bad, the rest of the band gave up and left Freeman alone on stage. You can watch some of the videos from last night to see just how bad it was. We love Ween around these parts and while we appreciate the group didn’t get to where they are by being “professionals” on a nightly basis – and certainly Ween would be no fun if there wasn’t a sense that a shitshow can break out at any moment – things are getting so bad that the band’s future and Gener’s health are clearly at stake. Ween returns to the stage tonight at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.