Ween Throw a Raging Party at Terminal 5 on Thursday Night

April 15th, 2016

Ween – Terminal 5 – April 14, 2016

Ween – Terminal 5 – April 14, 2016
It was clear even before these Terminal 5 shows sold out immediately that Ween’s return to New York City would be a capital-E Event. The band’s recent years were messy, with a full-blown breakup in 2012 and then a range of interesting commitments for each member until the rumor mill began to churn and whispers of a reunion turned into possibilities, then confirmations, then hard tickets and, finally, actual shows played, in the form of a three-night run in Colorado back in February. Now it’s NYC’s turn, and the first show of another three-night run, this time at a sold-out Terminal 5, was a raging party. In this season of can’t-believe-it reunions, from LCD Soundsystem to Guns N’ Roses, Ween’s might be the tastiest of all, at least to those who know every iota of songs like “Roses Are Free,” “Bananas and Blow,” “You Fucked Up” and “Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain.”

You don’t so much embrace Ween’s diabolically diverse catalog as reckon with it. Their repertoire culls from some nine different studio albums, covers, obscurities and new songs, too, and they do a remarkable job during their live show of splaying it all out there, multifaceted as it is, without losing energy or muddling the pace. Opening night at Terminal 5 moved—pinballed, really—from the giddy grooves of “Roses” and smart-alecky island maneuvers of “Bananas and Blow” to the sludgy, stomping rock of “The Grobe,” the curled-lip honky-tonk of “Japanese Cowboy” and the cheeky whimsy of “Boys Club.” The song count topped 30, as it often does at Ween shows that, like this one, stretched to two-and-a-half hours. One moment we were in the twisted-Beatles pop of “Little Birdy,” another we were singing along to the rage-burnt folk of “Baby Bitch.” Another still we entered the Floyd-ian psychedelic muck of “Mushroom Festival in Hell,” which flirted with a full devolution into noise rock in a hail of guitar fire.

The hard-partying crowd went wild for almost every song, and the band—throwing knowing smiles and shit-eating grins at the audience like the smart kids in the back of the class they’ve always been—seemed genuinely touched by the hero’s welcome. Ween are part of a rock lineage that’s brutally hard to define but you know it when you see it. Whatever that thread is that connects Frank Zappa and the Aquarium Rescue Unit to Phish and Gogol Bordello—dazzling musicality, technical prowess and songwriting depth beneath a sense of humor, heaps of personality and a few high jinks here and there—it’s in Ween’s stitching, too. A Ween-less world is a less exciting place, and what a happy thing that the band remembers that, too. —Chad Berndtson | @cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo |