Fox Theater – Oakland, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
I’ll spare you the details of $18 Red Bull & Vodka and delayed flights, the whirlwind 8 minute stop at my parents’ house to get a hug and say hello and all the beer consumed over multiple cities on the Peninsula. Instead we will start this epic two night tale of Boognish worship at the doors of the Fox Theater in that loveable shithole known as Oakland, CA. Dean and Gene Ween had already taken the stage and were ½ way through the opening number of “Fiesta” when Papa Funk made the shocking discovery that a wrist band was needed for the main floor and that he would not be able to stub me down. I may have been born by the Bay, but a decade in LA has taught me that despite the fact you are missing a pretty yellow wrist band if you want the floor you will get onto the floor. For legal reasons, I can’t exactly tell you how I got down there, but I will say this. It took a cell phone, knowing the right moment and a Ben Roethlisberger “No Means Yes” approach. For those keeping track at home, I had ordered the first round and enjoyed the last half of “Nan” before my associates mad managed to get their wrist bands.
We found a prime spot and settled in right as the pride of New Hope, PA kicked into “Transdermal Celebration.” I took a moment to observe my surroundings. I thought about the E-tard I met coming home from Phish at the Greek. She was coming home from a Crystal Castles show at the Fox and couldn’t stop about how amazing the place was. She was right; the place is amazing and with the band just launching into a raging triple shot of “Take Me Away”, “Waving My Dick in the Wind” and “Mr. Would You Please Help My Pony?” I knew I was home.
Ween may not have hits in the traditional sense, but the 2,800 freaks at the Fox treated each song as if it knocked Mariah Carey or Train off of the charts. The tender “Baby Bitch” and island flavored “Bananas & Blow” were the perfect opportunity for a crowd sing along. Who am I kidding, the entire three hours was one massive sing along. If you are a fan of Ween, a night with the band is not just a concert, it is a worship service. There was no doubt that we were witnessing a rather remarkable sermon.
After bringing the crowd down with chilling versions of “Did You See Me” and “Demon Sweat” stools and acoustic guitars were brought out for Dean & Gene. In what truly felt like a “thank you” to loyal Bay Area fans, we were treated with a 6 ½ song acoustic set. Kicking off with a tasty trip to “Chocolate Town”, this was the point in the show where Ween stopped messing around and took it to a whole new level. Dean and Gene gave up the mic and allowed keyboardist Glenn McClelland take the lead on a cover of the Emerson, Lake and Palmer original “Lucky Man.” I could be wrong, but I believe this was the first time the band has performed this live. From there the band took a rare trip down to “Joppa Road.” The crowd went nuts as the band nailed a song that holds such sentimental value to me I almost teared up. Another highlight was the 12 Golden Country Greats ditty “Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain” – a song I never planned on seeing performed live.
Gene and Dead swapped their acoustics for electrics halfway through “I Don’t Want It.” Even when Ween strips back, the power of their music keeps the shows energy level high. By the time Deaner unleashed a monstrous guitar solo in the middle of “Buckingham Green” I was afraid my heart could very well explode. The scary part is the energy level only got grew with the heavy metal masterpiece “Final Alarm.” It was only fair they snuck the laid back “Your Party” in before the next song. Had Ween gone from “Final Alarm” right into a spot-on cover of David Bowie’s “Let Dance” there is a good chance I would have needed to be resuscitated.
Listen to Ween long enough and you will understand the scale of brown. For those in the know, I don’t have to tell you how brown things got after Bowie. “Wayne’s Pet Youngin’ was a quick and pure blast of brown to your face. “The Goin’ Gets Tough From The Getgo” gave junkies a chance to just stare into space while they were skull fucked by bassist Dave Dreiwitz. “Fat Lenny” & “Dr. Rock” are both stand out full frontal rock and roll attacks from the bands early recordings back to back skull fucked the entire crowd.
The main set closed with a delicious double dose of Deaner. In keeping with the theme of rare songs, “Sorry Charlie” was a shocking and welcome treat. The raunchy “Blarney Stone” followed to the delight of the highly intoxicated audience. We even had a good laugh with Deaner after he struggled to describe organs afflicted with sexually transmitted diseases for the songs bridge. After all they put us through; it was the perfect way to close the set.
The band kicked the three song encore off with the Motorhead inspired “Stroker Ace.” After another classic Brown trip to the early 90’s with “You Fucked Up”, Dreiwitz began to lay down the opening low end from “Never Squeal.” The song slowly built into a roaring jam that featured a nasty drum solo from Claude Coleman. By nature, drum solos are boring, but on this particular night Coleman managed to take the music just where it needed to be without boring the crowd. I have to assume Squeal extended well past the twenty minute mark; with Deaner eventually taking the thunder originated by Coleman. Ween wrapped at 11:15pm sharp and when the house lights finally came up, many just stared on in awe. Ween is truly powerful and from exiting the venue all the way down the peninsula on BART fans rejoiced and repeated this was easily a top three Ween show. As great as my friends and I were feeling about the bands triumph in Oakland, we were even more excited to see if they band could top it the following night in Los Angeles.