Although slate colored clouds swirled in the sky and a light drizzle trickled down intermittently, it would take a lot more than a little rain to deter the Ween faithful from seeing their favorite band at Red Rocks. Ween has perhaps one of the most devoted cult followings in the nation, the show sold out not long after tickets went onsale. The mild weather actually offered a brief respite from the dog days of summer and made Red Rocks quite pleasant and a little mysterious, with mist clinging to the mountainsides and hovering over the Denver skyline in the distance.
It was a perfect setting for Ween to deliver a 34-song set that would see the band dusting off some back catalog gems along with Ween classics, not to mention a coveted and rare cover song from the band. It was a triumphant return to the famed venue after a nearly 8 year absence. Be sure to check out our amazing photo gallery above captured by Alex Jimenez.
Smoke swirled around the stage as the minor chords of “Did You See Me?” from the 2005 unreleased tracks compilation Shinola Vol. 1. While it wasn’t cold by any stretch of the imagination the rainy, cloudy weather was a perfect backdrop for the instrumental “Ice Castles.” It might be important to note here that Ween does not take a set break, opting instead for various members to take breaks throughout the set while always keeping the music going. All in all the band would play for over three hours straight, another aspect of Ween that has endeared them to their fans.
Next came “The Golden Eel,” the first of a number of songs from The Mollusk. Ween would lean heavily on material from their 1997 ocean themed concept album, which is widely considered one of Ween’s best by fans, and Mickey Melchiondo--aka Dean Ween--has said that the album is his favorite. To celebrate the album’s 20 year anniversary the band recently played the album in its entirety in Oregon. While we didn’t get the whole thing at Red Rocks, Ween did play seven of the album’s 14 tracks with Deaner noting the anniversary. Besides “The Golden Eel” the band would also play the album’s title track, “Cold Blows the Wind,” “Buckingham Green,” “Wavin’ My Dick in the Wind” and “She Wanted Me to Leave.” Ween would open their three song encore with The Mollusk track “Polka Dot Tail.”
Ween would play many of their animal themed songs including “The Stallion” parts one and three as well as “Mister, Won’t You Please Help My Pony.” The band would also play “I Gots a Weasel” and “Squelch the Weasel.” As noted above, the band takes quick breaks individually. Dean referenced weasels again and had the crowd laughing when Aaron Freeman, aka Gene Ween, left the stage to which Deaner remarked, “Gener went to drain the weasel” in a bit of classic Ween flippance. To continue that irreverence, Dean would also tell the story about their first Red Rocks show 22 years ago opening for Denver-based band Big Head Todd and the Monsters who according to Dean didn’t want Ween to open for them because Ween was the better band. He also joked about playing with Tenacious D and Jack Black. Both Dean and Gene’s commentary during shows are another reason Ween has such a devoted following.
While the whole set was well crafted, other highlights included “Take Me Away,” “Boys Club,” “Transdermal Celebration,” “Happy Colored Marbles,” “Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain,” “Birthday Boy,” "Long Night" (sung by bassist Drew Dreiwitz), “Homo Rainbow,” and “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down).” We got a special treat when Ween closed the set with a rare cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and while the instrumentation was a bit shaky, Gene absolutely nailed Robert Plant’s difficult vocal performance. To close the show, Ween returned to the animal theme with an epic “Fluffy,” which is about a dog, from the band’s 1996 Nashville recorded 12 Golden Country Greats. Now it was time for Dean to shine, delivering an incendiary guitar solo at the end of the song to put an exclamation point on an amazing show.
While the band’s hiatus ending shows at Colorado’s 1stBank Center in 2015 were exciting, the band really seems to be back in full form complete with Gener’s flailing T-Rex arms and Deaners smoking guitar solos. The Boognish is certainly rising.
Ween is also playing two shows at Denver’s Ogden Theatre July 13 and 14, however, those shows are sold out. Ween has a Halloween show on the books set for The Bomb Factory in Dallas. Click here for tickets.