Thursday, Aug. 3
Orpheum Theatre, 8 p.m, sold out
Today, Clubwatch Geographic visits New Hope, Pa. A colonial mill town, New Hope is near where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River - ostensibly to surprise the English, but really to just get the hell away from New Hope, Pa. As a child I frequented the town on school field trips, where we would, in fact, visit empty fields so dull they actually slowed the onset of puberty.
Which might explain the silly success of New Hope residents Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman, who as 14-year-olds renamed themselves "Dean and Gene Ween" and started recording what crazy sounds like.
Never hitting the mainstream so much as dying it purple, Ween's madcap mock 'n' roll savaged the way-too-serious indie '90s by taking the common musical tropes of prog, pop, rock and country and seeing them to their illogical conclusions. As with Primus, Tenacious D and other Weenspired musical surrealists, you can turn off the irony and just enjoy the songs, from the wittily immature Chocolate and Cheese to concept albums like 12 Golden Country Greats and The Mollusk.
It's proof you can be weird without being Weird Al, and proof that creativity can survive great adversity - and historic mills.
Saturday, July 29
Memorial Union Terrace, 9:30 p.m.
I worry about the explosion of Bens in popular music today. Ben Folds, Ben Harper, Ben Kweller, Ben Stein... Unless we cull the herd, we'll soon see emaciated, chronic-wasting-diseased Bens eating through people's gardens, attracting cougars and spreading ticks.
So remember not to pet, feed or taunt Ben Lee when he performs here. At 14 he was a critical and commercial success with the Australian band Noise Addict, but now, 10 years later, he's mostly known as Claire Danes' ex. With his 2005 release Awake Is the New Sleep, Lee found his post-superstar sea legs, singing soul-searching-but-upbeat songs without getting stuck in the whiny trap.
Wednesday, Aug. 2
Annex, 8:30 p.m.
We conclude '90s Appreciation Week with the Eels, who found moderate success with the first song on their first album: "Novocaine for the Soul." Most of what followed was increasingly better, but increasingly ignored. Unfair, but it could have been worse. At least they never lived in New Hope or dated Claire Danes.