Ween call it quits after 25 years -- a Minneapolis farewell

"I'm Gener, that's Deaner, and we're Weaner." That hilarious introduction frequently greeted the exuberant crowds who gathered to see the always memorable live shows of irreverent alt-rock experimentalists Ween, who sadly called it quits yesterday after 25 years of making music fans everywhere laugh and dance along to their absurdist rock diversions.

Aaron Freeman, aka Gene Ween, told Rolling Stone that his beloved band are finished, but he claims that he and his longtime musical partner, Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween), parted on good terms. Although on Melchiondo's Facebook page he claims, "This is news to me, all I can say for now I guess."

It would be hard to imagine those two jubilant musical goofballs angry with each other or bitter after all those years crafting funny but utterly fascinating material that formed the soundtrack for many of their fans (and their own) druggy excursions toward blissful oblivion. But the music industry does seem to have a strange effect on some people, especially those who were strange to begin with. 

Ween have strong ties to Minneapolis, as their debut record, GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, was recorded at legendary local label Twin/Tone Records, and one of their first ever live shows was at the 7th Street Entry. The group has also played a number of memorable gigs at First Avenue over the years, including an unforgettable Halloween show in 1994 where both Gene and Dean announced proudly to the crowd that they were both on acid, and then proceeded to play their asses off for nearly four highly entertaining hours.

It was during their live shows that the band really made a connection with their small but dedicated fan base, with each new convert frequently swearing that they would never miss seeing Ween play live in their town again.

Their effervescent music was such a wild mix of influences and genres that if you didn't like the sound of one of the songs on any of their 11 studio albums or their live show, chances were that you'd like the next number. They were talented musicians who never really took themselves too seriously, standing in a stark difference to the grim self-seriousness of the '90s. They also brought a much needed sense of humor to their music, which also stood out amidst the dour alt-rock anthems of that decade and beyond. 

Freeman has just released a new solo record, Marvelous Clouds, which is a collection of covers of the songs of '60s songwriter Rod McKuen. But at this point it isn't clear what the next step is musically for Melchiondo. However, this recent development certainly represents another strange, perhaps final, fork in the road of a long, expansive musical career that seemed to be based on using those same forks to consume some chocolate and cheese or dice up some bananas and blow.

But don't cry too hard for the demise of Ween. They are, after all, the band who crafted such anti-classics as "Strap On That Jammypac,"Touch My Tooter," and "Pink Eye (On My Leg)." They never aimed to be memorialized, it just seemed that they wanted some friends to get high with over the years. And perhaps that might just be the best way to celebrate Ween's long-lasting career and their creative, chaotic music.

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