MTV's favorite couch-potato critics, Beavis and Butt-Head, summed up many people's initial response to Ween in six words: "What the hell is this crap?"
Like others who'd just encountered the band's 1992 album, Pure Guava, B&B were turned off by the video for Ween's most popular single, "Push th' Little Daisies." But like quite a few of these naysayers, they had a change of heart by the time 1994's Chocolate & Cheese rolled around.
"Ween kicks ass. This is kinda groovy," Butt-Head proclaimed during the video for Chocolate's "Freedom of '76." Not only is the song catchy and soulful; it's a conversation piece, even for those who couldn't sustain a conversation if their lives depended on it.
Therein lies Dean and Gene Ween's genius: They make stupid people slightly smarter and smart people a bit stupider. A Ween song is a two-minute equalizer, one that helps you realize, for just a moment, what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes - if that someone is completely insane.
But can half of Ween have the same effect? Now that Gene, the band's vocal virtuoso, is bringing his solo act to town, he'll have to prove if he can do it without Dean's guitar chops. Sure, Gene can play the instrument, but he's rarely done so for an entire show. The question is whether he'll hold his own.
One thing's for sure: He'll have some enthusiastic backup singers in the audience, especially if he dips into the ridiculous words and funk-meets-psych melodies of Chocolate & Cheese. He may also make musical fondue out of newer favorites from the Gene Ween Band, the jam-a-riffic side project he's started with Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz, Disco Biscuits pinch hitter Scott Metzger on guitar and drummer Joe Russo of the Benevento/Russo Duo.
But it's the stuff that was so maligned in Ween's early days - voice-modulation experiments like "Laura" and the blissfully bizarre lyrics of "Don't Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)" - that'll make folks profess their lifelong devotion or tell ol' Gener to, as the Ween song goes, piss up a rope.