Last Friday was a busy evening for us Artist Relations guys. Four of our Shure friends and family were in town in four different venues. Ween at the Aragon, Thievery Corporation at the Congress Theatre, Melvins at the Double Door and Babasonicos at the Ravenswood Event Center. I’ve pulled off four visits in one night before, but the timing worked out perfectly spanning ten hours, I was a lot younger, and I had a motorcycle at the time which made parking a breeze. Our man Nelson works with Babasonicos and I had a very recent visitation with Thievery, so it came down to Ween and the Melvins. Fortunately Melvins were playing on the later side. More on that later.
Years in to my time here at Shure I met FOH engineer Kirk Miller. Kirk was working with Eagles of Death Metal and later with Gomez, two bands with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working for a while. It turned out that while those two bands are regular clients, his main gig was bringing Ween to the audience.
Ween has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I was in high school when they first started to hit the radio with their third album, Pure Guava. I was a big fan of some pretty weird music back then, but they were a whole different kind of weird. Rumors of legendary and constant substance abuse* both fueling and fueled by marathon studio sessions seemed to rationalize what I heard the first time I listened to “Push Th’ Little Daisies”. I remember being in a bar some years later when I heard “Piss Up a Rope”. I asked the DJ who had made such a country masterpiece. Ween. That’s when I realized how versatile the band could be. They move effortlessly through genres.
I got a text about two months ago. “Ween at the aragon june 25″. Seeing as I had only seen them at their Lollapalooza headline spot in 2006 it was a quick “yes!” reply from me. You wouldn’t know it from the pop charts, but Ween draw a big crowd with ease. When it comes to indoor shows in Chicago the Aragon is about as big as you get in the club/ballroom circuit.
I popped in just after the start of their two-and-a-half hour set. I worked my way over to Kirk’s position. After letting him know I was there I popped a squat behind the mix position for about an hour. The joint was packed and hot. It seemed everyone in the crowd knew every word to every song. It’s one thing to hear Ween jump genre-to-genre, but to see them do it in such a condensed time puts a different spin on the talent of the band. They also weren’t afraid to call songs in the set, especially when needed for a technical problem on stage. Being able to call a song and just play it is an underrated talent for a live band.
Kirk and I caught up when we could between songs, but alas, my stay was shorter than I would have liked. I had managed to run over the start time to my second show. I bade my friend au revior and jumped in a cab. I was on my way to Double Door for the Melvins show.
*Curiosity got the better of me and one night over drinks I asked Kirk about the rumors. Turns out they’re just a couple of guys who put some goofy liner note in the album that was entirely untrue. They are not, under any circumstances, to be regarded as authoritative in the huffing of Scotch Guard™. Also, never, ever, EVER huff Scotch Guard.