Ween Redefine Higher Education at McCarren Show

Duuuuude! Photo: Ryan Rivadeneyra

It took about an hour for the throngs to get adequately lit for Friday night's Ween show at McCarren Park Pool; luckily, the band's set lasted three hours. At dusk, front man Aaron Freeman ("Gene Ween") stepped aside long enough to allow guitarist Mickey Melchiondo Jr. ("Dean Ween") to launch into "With My Own Bare Hands," one of a number of balls-out, fists-in-the-air jock jams they squeezed into their set, affirming Ween's unlikely standing as the weirdest party band in America. You can't count on a see-and-be-seen crowd to indulge in a sing-along, much less one that calls for a "She's gonna be my cock professor / Studying my dick!" refrain. But sing along this crowd did. And that's what separates Ween from, say, the Flaming Lips: Ween's cheerful psychedelia may be cloaked in sultry R&B ("Your Party"), disco-funk ("Voodoo Lady"), Kentucky bluegrass ("Learning to Love"), or stoner rock ("Booze Me Up and Get Me High"), but it's all a setup for crowd-pleasing, AC/DC-inspired rockers. By the time the speakers blew during the ferocious encore — one featuring such "hits" as "The HIV Song," "Bananas and Blow," "You Fucked Up," and a face-melting take on Hendrix's "Hey Joe" — the fact that you were stinking drunk in an empty swimming pool seemed perfectly natural. —Dylan Stableford